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A Dehliwal Mauri ah kamaoo.' 




Appendices regarding some Foreign Criminals who 
occasionally visit the Presidency 


Hints on the Detection of Counterfeit Coin 


B O M 15 A V 


[Price Rs. 5-20. or js. 6J.] 


THESE Notes, kindly revised, while the proofs were going through 
the press, by Mr. R. B. Stewart, M. A., I. C. S., Inspector-General 
of Police, Bombay Presidency, are an attempt to bring together and 
up to date in a practical form, such information as is available 
respecting the methods and distinctive characteristics of the Criminal 
Classes belonging to the Bombay Presidency and of certain 
foreign Criminal Tribes visiting it for the purposes of crime. 

Ethnological and historical details, interesting though they no 
doubt are, have been avoided as being of no practical use to Police 
officers in the discharge of their duties in respect to the detection 
and prevention of crime. 

To ensure accuracy and fulness of interesting and useful detail, 
Gazetteers, Police Records, Major Gunthorpe's Notes on Criminal 
Tribes, experienced Police Officers and reliable ' informers ' have 
been consulted and the information thus obtained sifted and sub- 
jected to verification. 

It' may be conceded that no book on Criminal Classes can claim 
to be complete or final"- but will need revision according to varying 
circumstances and conditions affecting the criminal fraternity and 
the changes in their methods of criminality brought about thereby. 
It is hoped therefore that officers interested in the subject will 
be kind enough to communicate, from time to time, suggestions 
for additions and alterations which further experience and changing 
circumstances may indicate as desirable. Necessary amendments 
after verification will then appear in revised editions of the work. 

The excellent illustrations interspersed throughout these Notes 
are the work of the Government Photo-zinco Department, Poona, 
from photographs taken by the Department or kindly supplied by 
Mr. D. Davies, Mr. H. M. Gibbs, Mr. Luck, Mr. Vincent, and Inspector 
H. R. Kothavala. 

B 51 1 a 


In respect to the notes on Sinsis ami Minas, thanks are due to 
the Indore State for the loan, through Mr. C. Sea^-rim, Inspector- 
General of Police, Indore State, of ' informers ' and to this officer for 
an interesting note on these tribes. 

Acknowledgments are due, to Mr. Vincent for information 
obtained from his unpublished notes on some of the Criminal 
Classes and to the following Police officers in the Bombay Presi- 
dency for usefuPand interesting contributions and co-operation in 
the collection of material for the present compilation : 

Sir Edmund Cox, Mr. W. L. B. Souter, Mr. D. Davies, Mr. W. A. 
Dubois, Mr. T. S. Greenaway, Mr. H. M. Gibbs, Mr. R. P. Lambert, 
Mr. T. G. Foard, Mr. F. H. Warden, Mr. R. MacTier, Mr. W. 11 
Luck, Mr. W. G. Clabby, the late Mr. H. Pogson, Mr. J. A. Guider, 
Mr. G. H. White, Mr. E. Priestley, Mr. J. A. Wallinger, Mr. K. C. 
Rushton, Rao Bahadur Mansukhram Mulji and Inspectors Hector 
R. Kothavala (for notes on Oudhias and Chhapparbands), Biharilal 
Bansilal and Bhimaji Balaji Gudi. 

Much of the labour incidental to compiling, arranging and veri- 
fying the information obtained from the above sources, has devolved 
on Deputy Superintendent Abdul Rashidkhan and to this officer, 
for his invaluable assistance always cheerfully rendered, the Compiler 
is specially indebted. 


Deputy Inspector-General of Police, 
Railways and Criminal Investigation, 

Bombay Presidency. 
ist August 1907. 


Classes belonging to the Bombay Presidency. 


BANJARAS (also known as Vanjaris, Brinjaris, Lamans, Lam- 

banis, and Lambadis) ... ... ... i 

BERADS (also known as Bedars, Byaderu, Talvarru and Naikra 

Makalru) ... ... ... ... 11 

BHAMPTAS (also known as Ghantichors, Uchlias, Khisa-katrus, 

Takaris, Vadaris, Kalwadru, Tudugwadru, and Pathruts) . 16 

RAJPUT BHAMPTAS (also known as Pardeshi Bhamptas) ... 34 

BHILS (known in parts of Khandesh as Khotils) ... 37 


CHHAPPARBANDS (also known as Fakir Coiners) ... ... 49 

KAIKADIS (also known as Korwas, Korchas, and Pamlors) ... 63 

KATKARIS (also known as Kathodis) ... ... ... 84 

KOLIS Mahadeo Kolis ... ... ... ... 90 

Gujerat Kolis ... ... .. - 97 

MANGS (also known as Madars, Madigru and Mangelas) ... 108 

MANG-GARUDIS ... ... ... ... 119 

MIANAS ... ... ... ... 126 

PARDHIS (also known as Takaris or Takenkars, Phas Pardhis, 

Langoti Pardhis, Haranshikaris, Advichanchers and 

Chigri-batgirs) ... ... ... ... 133 

RAMOSHIS ... ... ... ... 143 

VAGHRIS (also known as Baghris) ... ... ... 155 

WADDARS ... .. ... ... 166 

Foreign Tribes who visit the Bombay Presidency. 

BOWRIS (also known as Bauriahs, Badaks and Moghias) ... 173 

MARWAR BAORIS or GUJERAT BAORIS (also known as Marwar 

Vaghris or Baghris) ... ... ... 198 

UJLE (clean) MiNAS ... ... ... ... 207 



MAILE (unclean) MINAS ... ... ... 216 

OuDHIAS (also known as Audhias, Oudh-bashis or \ \iodliia- 

bashis or vashis, and Avadhpuris) ... ... JK, 

PATHANS (also known as Rohillas, Cabulis, Peshawaris, Khans, 

Afghans, Pashtunis, Pishinis and Kandharis) ... 230 

SANSIS and BERIAS (also known as Sansi Kanjars, Adodiyas, 
Popats, Ghagarias, Ghagrapaltan, Hadkutias, Chh; 
Geedhiyes, Haboodes, Kajarhatiyes, Kanchires, Chiro- 
kharwals, Bhanthus or Bhantoodes, Kanjar Bedi 
Pomblas, Bagorias, Unchalaingawalle or Baihvalc 
Kanjars) ... ... .. .. 245 

Contents of Appendices. 

Appendix. Pag e ' 

I. LANGOTI PARDEES. By Mr. J. T. B. D. Sewell, District 

Superintendent of Police, Amraoti ... 261 

II. HARNIS. By the Inspector-General of Police, Panjab. 
(Reproduced from the Supplement to the Cen- 
tral Provinces Police Gazette dated 3rd October 
1906) ... ... ... ... 268 

III. HARNIS. By Mr. Frank Clough, Acting District Super- 

intendent of Police, Ludhiana, Panjab (26th 
January 1907) ... ... ... 277 

IV. CHANDRAWEDIS (known in Gujerat of the Bombay Presi- 

dency as Dhinojias or Dhanojias). By Mr. C. M. 
Seagrim, Inspector-General of Police, Indore 
State ... ... ... ... 296 

V. CHANDRAWEDIS. By Mr. A. C. Hankin, C. I.E., Inspector- 
General of Police and Prisons, His Highness the 
Nizam's Dominions (written in 1893) 36 

VI. NowsARlAS. Extract from the United Provinces 
Criminal Intelligence Gazette dated Allahabad, 
i st August 1906 ... ... ...312 

VII. BHATRAS. Culled from the Supplement to the Police 
Gazette, Bengal, dated I5th July 1904, and 
Supplement to the Panjab Police Gazette dated 
9th August 1905 ... ... 313 

VIII. PANS OF ORISSA. By Mr. R. Clarke, Superintendent of 

Police, Angul ... ... . 324 

IX. HABURAS. - Account taken from Crooke's " Tribes and 
Castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh " 
and reproduced from the Supplement to Central 
Provinces Police Gazette dated 22nd November 
1905 .. ... ... ... 330 


Appendix. Page. 

X. JADUA BRAHMINS. Particulars regarding the modus 
operandi of. (Taken from the Supplement to the 
Police Gazette, Lower Provinces, dated 151)1 July 
1904 and 3ist March 1905) ... ... 333 

By Mr. F. A. M. H. Vincent, District Superin- 
tendent of Police, Bombay Presidency ... 335 

(Taken from the Madras Police Gazette dated the 
1 7th November 1906) ... ... 339 

List of Illustrations. 

A Dehliwal Bauriah ' kamaoo ' ...Frontispiece. 

Lambanis of the Dharwar District ... ... i 

Bhamptas in their ordinary clothes ... ... 16 

Bhamptas in disguise ... ... 25 

A Bijapur Chhapparband ... ... 49 

Kaikadis of the Southern Maratha Country ... ... 63 

Mangs belonging to the Satara District ... ... 108 

Haran Shikaris ... ... 133 

A Ramoshi ... ... 143 

Waddars ... . 166 

A Dehliwal ' kamaoo ' on the move ... ... 173 

Oudhias ... ... 219 

The following Plates will be found at the end of the book : 


Ex. 31. Dhdria carried by Gujerat criminals. 
29. Bhil's bow and arrow. 
,, 44. Pungi or blow-gourd forming part of Kaikadi's (Pamlor's 

and Kail Korva's) disguise. 

,, 55. Mina gydn or house-breaking instrument. 
,, 54. Vansi carried by Kolis and Vaghris of Gujerat. 
,, 26. Kariyali dhdng carried by Kolis and Vaghris of Gujerat. 
,, ii. Gujerat Koli's kator or boomerang. 


Ex. 23. Part of Chhapparband's paraphernalia. Palli or iron spoon, 
tongs, moulds for counterfeiting rupees and 8-anna pieces, 
some of the coin turned out and clay shaped like a 
d u r gah. 

Chhapparband's characteristic mould, taken from a draw- 


Kx. }/. Marwar Baori's mould, counterfeit rupee in the rough and 

palli or ladle. 
M ;r\\ r r.aori's characteristic mould, taken from a drawm-. 


Kx. s.i Kangatti: Kaikadi's, Waddar's and Berad's jemmy in the 


56. Bauriah's makeshift scales. 

,. 40. Jemmy common among nomadic tribes living in j, 
46. Khiitariya: Gujerat Koli's and Vaghri's jemmy. 
,, 41. Arasukuchi ' : Berad's jemmy. 

Kx. 52. Slings, khantad (jemmy) and knives carried by Kanjars. 

Ex. 20. Bauriah burglar's knife, waxed taper, ball of wax and gydn 


,, 38. Oudhia's bamboo fork for lifting window and door fasten- 
ings, gydns and tongs. 

Ex. 42. Korne (chunam scraper) carried by Bhamptas for picking 

locks (actual size). 

, 10. Bhampta's ulmitkhs or curved knives (actual size). 
,, 50. Piece of metal made to look like a bar of gold, used by 
Vaghri cheats (actual size). 


Lambanis of the Dharwar District. 



BANJARAS are also known in other parts of India and in 
various parts of this Presidency 

Name or c t r ;"e nal dass differently as Vanjaris, Brinjaris, 

Lamans, Lambanis, Lambadis, etc. 

The class is divided into a number of tribes or sub- 
divisions, some more criminal and troublesome than others, 
the four principal of which are, as given by Major Gun- 
thorpe : Mathurias, Labhanas, Charans (who in parts of this 
Presidency call themselves Rajput Banjaras), and Dharees 
(known in the Carnatic as Tambureroo). The last mentioned 
are Mahomedans and are the bhdts (bards) of the tribe. 
There is another class called Dhalias who are Banjara Mangs. 
Each sub-division is again split up into clans or families. 
Among certain of the Hindu divisions there are Sonars 
(goldsmiths), Khawasis or Nhavis (barbers), Pujaris (wor- 
shippers), etc. 

Banjaras must not be confused with Wanjaras or Wanjares, 
now altogether a distinct class or caste though descended no 
doubt from the same stock, who are to be met with in Ahmed- 
nagar, Nasik, Poona, and Khandesh. These latter conform 
in manners, customs, dress, language, etc., to the Marathas 
of the Deccan, are not addicted to crime, live in villages 
and have nothing in common with Banjaras. 

The few Banjaras to be found in Gujerat are made up of 
Gowarias or Gowalias and Lab*hanas. Little need be said 
in respect to these as they are a peaceful, law-abiding, agricul- 
tural community and not criminal in any sense of the word. 
Their language, appearance and dress vary slightly from that 
of the Banjaras of the Deccan and Carnatic, owing no doubt 
to their different environment. It will be unnecessary to refer 
specially to them again except under the headings " Crime 
to which addicted " and " Modus operandi" where a brief 
allusion to the Gowarias, because of their one weakness for 
occasionally smuggling opium, will be made. 


Banjaras are to be found practically throughout this Pre- 
sidency, also in His Highness the 

Habitat. .. , T> . TV* A i i 

Nizam s lerntory, Mysore, Madras, 
Central Provinces and Berars. 

Banjaras of this Presidency are not in the present day a 
nomadic class, though some of the 
?s; an ' tribes still maintain their hereditary 
love for wandering ; the majority arc- 
settled in encampments more or less near villages. Here and 
there small villages have in the past been absorbed by Banjara 
f<hn/(?s, and in some instances tandas have, in course of time, 
become villages ; in .both cases, as might be expected, the 
Banjara population largely predominates. 

Their criminal activities are, as a rule, confined to a radius 
of thirty to sixty miles from their fiinrfas, but for cattle lifting, 
journeys to more distant places are undertaken. Offences are 
seldom committed in close proximity to a Lamani encampment. 

The tribe is a large one, numbering, according to the last 
Bombay Presidency census returns, 

Population according to last \r . jo T U ' 

census, and distribution. ioo,ooo Vanjans and 1 8,ooo Lambams, 

the distribution being as follows : 


Males- Fern 

Ahmedabad ... 101 68 

l'> mach ... ... i 

K.iira ... 47 43 

I '.inch Mahals ... 4X4 379 

Surat ... 109 66 

Thuna ... 1,345 1,211 

Native States in Northern Diviqjon ... 30^ 275 

Ahrm-dna^ar ... 15,850 111.301 

Khandcsh ... 17,175 '5.269 

-ik ... I5.<)".} '5.124 

Poona ... 1,300 i,24 s 

Satara ... i, 4 (>i 1.337 

Sholapur ... 2,274 2,100 

Native States iiTCe.ntral Division ... 173 14^ 

I'- l^aum ... 230 

I>ij-'M>ur ... 19 25 

Kanara ... 30 

Kolaha ... 104 104 

K ilua^iri ... i i 9 

Native States in Souther*' Division ... 

Total .. 5S,or,i 54, ( > S S 


Lamdns, Labdnas, or Lambtinis. 

Males. Females. 

Ranch Mahals ... 670 796 

Thana ... 2 7 

Native States in Northern Division ... 133 174 

Ahmednagar ... 227 233 

Khanclesh ... 94 114 

Nasik ... 229 184 

Poona ... 42 27 

Satara ... 80 97 

Sholapur ... 202 186 

Native States in Central Division ... 94 72 

Belgaum ... . 436 4oS 

Bijapur ... 2,649 2 A 1 7 

Dharwar ... 4,152 3,943 

Kanara ... 308 143 

Kolaba ... 33 62 

Native States in Southern Division ... 957 816 

Total ... 10,308 9,679 

Mahomedan Vanjaris. 

Ahmedabad ... 3 

Native States in Northern Division ... 21 27 

Khandesh ... 31 34 

Nasik ... 5 10 

Sholapur ... i 

Native States in Central Division 6 s 

Total ... 67 76 

In this Presidency the class is practically settled, their 
typical tdndas having existed in places 

Appearance, dress, etc. S l . . **. tf 

tor generations back, generally on 

waste lands far removed from village sites. They live a life 
apart from the village community and society. Their encamp- 
ments or settlements are known as tan das with a ' naik ' at 
the head of each. On him falls the responsibility of deciding 
all disputes and matters concerning the welfare of the tdndn 
and he is their spokesman. 

The men are tall, sturdy, well built, capable of enduring 
long and fatiguing marches, are often fair, with nothing in 
their appearance and dress to distinguish them from other 
cultivating classes, except that the poorer sections of the com- 
munity are perhaps less cleanly. In parts the costume of the 
men and the type of physiognomy conform to those of Manvad 
Rajputs or Manithas of good family. 


Their ordinary dress is a dhoti or cholna (loose knicker- 
bockers), coat or pairan, head-cloth coloured or white, and 
frequently gaudy turbans on festive occasions. Amon^ the 
more well-to-do the pagri worn is often large, of red material, 
an upnrni or shoulder-cloth being carelessly folded over it 
when the wearer leaves home. 

Dharees, though observing the Mahomedan rite of circum- 
cision, closely resemble Hindus in manners, customs and 
appearance, in many instances their names being Hindu. 

The women are mostly of superior physique and not with- 
out claims to good-looks. In parts of the Presidency they an 
bold and talkative, in others shy and retiring, keeping their 
faces covered in public after the fashion of Marwadi women. 
They are a picturesque exception to the general squalid 
appearance of the females of the nomadic tribes. In the case 
of Charan women their bright coloured gJidgrns, laingas or 
gowns made of coarse cloth dyed red or blue and odni or 
head and body scarf of the same material embroidered and in 
some parts of the Presidency ornamented with beads, shells 
and looking-glass ; their quaint stiff bodices, loose in front, 
open at the back, and more like a breastplate ; their brass, 
bone or horn bracelets extending to the elbow and even higher ; 
numerous brass anklets ; their ear-rings and the variety of the 
ornaments which embellish their hair plaited at the back, 
combine to make a quaint yet interesting picture. The hair 
on either side of the face is also plaited into tails which are 
finished off with metal pendants. In some of the districts of 
the Presidency a piece of horn or stick, about nine inches long. 
is fastened into the hair on the top of the head. The end of the 
odni passing over this spike imparts an almost comical effect. 
This shing, as it is called, is worn only by married women whose 
husbands are living. 

Dharee women do not everywhere wear bracelets above 
the elbow, in other respects their dress is similar to that of 
Charan women. At marriages they wear saris and clmlis like 
Mahomedans, but discard them as soon as the ceremony is 

Dhalia women wear sdris and cholis, like ordinary Mangs, 
and glass bangles. 

Of the numerous sub-divisions, that of the Mathuria^ 
is socially the highest and numerically the smallest. They 
live in houses in villages, are well-to-do and arc not criminal 
as a class. They wear the sacred thread or a necklace of 


hi/si beads, do not touch meat or liquor and are more cleanly 
than the rest. Their females wear the sari after the style of 
Gujar women, some being restricted in the choice of colour to 
blue. The hair is dressed in a knot on the top of the head 
and finished off with a cloth peg about two inches in length over 
which the end of the sari falls. 

Labhanas, both men and women, dress very like Mathurias. 

Banjaras are very superstitious, easily excited, and are 
given to quarrelling among themselves. Feeling sometimes 
runs high and feuds end in bloodshed even, but withal, the tribe 
as a whole is steadily settling down and in parts is as industrious, 
well-to-do and law-abiding as the Kunbi. 

Mathurias and Labhanas excepted, men of all sub-divisions 
are fond of meat and liquor. Armed with spears and accom- 
panied by their celebrated dogs they go in a good deal for 
hunting wild game. 

The habitations in their encampments are more or less of a 
permanent though flimsy nature, wi'th grass or palm leaf roofs. 
In parts of the Presidency where the Banjaras are in better 
circumstances, some of the well-to-do among them build them- 
selves more substantial houses in their tdndas. When on the 
move or temporarily employed as labourers on public works, 
they live in pals. 

Banjara tdndas are well guarded by a number of large 
Banjara dogs of -a well known and. special breed. 

They have a peculiar dialect called ' Banjari ' which resembles 
Marwadi and contains some Hindustani 

Dialcct of an , d pc"ch uliariti and Marathi words. They can also 

talk the language of the country they 
are settled in and usually Hindustani too. 

In the Carnatic, Lamanis' slang for a house-breaking instru- 
ment is soola. for dacoity dharadmdr. 

Slang used. , f , . , , , J , . 

and tor highway robbery vatmar. 

Till roads and railways opened up the country, Banjaras 

with their numerous pack-bullocks were 

stable-* c the common carr lers all over India of 

grain, salt and merchandise of all 

sorts and served in the transport department of the Mogul 
armies and with the British troops in the last century. The 
spread of civilization and improvements in and extension of, 
communications have virtually deprived them of their hereditary 


Many an- now cultivators on a small scale and field 
labourers, the poorer ones supplementing their small profits by 
collecting firewood, grass, honey and other forest products tor 
sale at the nearest market town. Others eke out a livelihood 
by selling head-loads of grass and firewood only. As a class 
they arc also born herdsmen and are frequently employed by 
villagers to tend cattle. Many a Ban j lira has wide acres and 
is wealthy and prosperous and here and there individuals are to 
be met with trading like Marwadis and established as stiwhirs. 

Some sections of the tribe trade in cattle (and go long dis- 
tances for the purpose), sheep, goats, etc., which they convey 
to distant parts of the country ; others, though relatively few, 
still follow their hereditary calling of carriers and maintain pack- 
bullocks for the purpose. They also serve as watchmen, enter 
Government employ perhaps as a bailiff or something of the 
kind, here and there are to be met w*ith as porters on the 
railway, and, it is understood that in His Highness the Nizam's 
Dominions a few are even employed in the police. 

On large public works such as tanks, earthworks, railway 
construction and the like, tnndas of Lambanis are often* to be 
found, the men working as labourers during the day and no 
doubt pillaging in the neighbouring villages during the night. 

As a preliminary to the execution of an organized dacoity 
Banjaras in the Carnatic occasionally 

* sgui :?idon me;i '' S disguise themselves as Lingayats and 

Brahmins in order to secure reliable 

information as to a suitable quarry and the dispositions neces- 
sary for attack. 

For the actuaF commission of crime, disguises are not 
assumed but to baffle identification faces are muffled and 
occasionally smeared with ashes or powder. 

Where the Banjara is well-to-do and prosperous, as in 
Khandesh for instance, he gives very 

Crime to which addicted. ,., ,,* jj-.j/ 

little trouble and is not addicted to 

organized crime, though here and there no doubt, a criminally 
disposed individual will join with local bad characters in the 
commission of offences. Elsewhere the more serious forms of 
crime to which the class is addicted are highway robbery and 
dacoity both on roads and in dwelling places, usually huts, but 
chiefly on roads. These and cattle lifting are their specialities 
The Lambanis of the Carnatic are perhaps the most trouble- 
some of the class inhabiting this I 'residency. In house-breaking 


the Banjara does not excel, but in crop and cattle thefts he is 
expert. Illicit distillation of liquor is a weakness with all 
Banjaras, specially with those of the Carnatic, few of the 
tdndas there being free from it. 

Sheep stealing, both by stealth and open attacks on shep- 
herds, here and there kidnapping of children, ransacking 
grain-pits, pilfering at night from off carts both moving and 
stationary at halting places, are other offences to which 
Banjaras are addicted and there is little doubt that in some 
parts the smuggling of opium in loads and pack-saddles is made 
a source of profit. 

Lastly, the levy of blackmail for the restoration of cattle 
stolen is not infrequently practised. 

The Gowarias of Gujerat occasionally, it is believed, indulge 
in opium smuggling on a small scale. 

Sheep and cattle are either removed from sheds and pens 
or driven away from flocks or herds in 

Methods employed in com- . j.v i j . i 

mitting crime, and distinguish- the open, the latter sometimes mixed 
ing characteristics likely to up . w j tn the Banjaras' own animals ; 

afford a clue. . \ . . r i 

horns are trimmed, the shape or the 

ears altered and brands put on so as to change the appearance 
of stolen animals. Sometimes a dozen or more cattle disappear 
from one village and as all are driven off singly by different 
routes to an appointed meeting place ten miles or more away, 
it is a matter of no little difficulty to trace such thefts. An 
expert Banjara cattle lifter will also surreptitiously drive off cattle 
from the open country during broad day-light while the herds- 
man is having his dinner or midday snooze. 

Other methods of cattle lifting are a's follows : Leaving 
their tdndas in charge of the women, Banjaras go long distances 
to lift cattle ; the stolen animals are driven by unfrequented 
paths and the tan da is reached by some indirect route. The 
cattle are afterwards driven off to a distant destination and sold 
to butchers or others, or entrusted to friends for safe custody. 
Or, relays of men are posted at suitable intervals between the 
tdnda and the scene of the proposed crime ; two of the culprits 
drive the cattle to the first relay of men posted and so on, as 
each relay is relieved, it disappears and reaches home by devious 

At night, sheep are stampeded by some of the culprits get- 
ting in among them ; each man engaged in the venture secures, 
during the noise and confusion, one of the flock and makes off 


with it. Efforts on the part of the shepherd to interfere \\itli the 
thieves meet with violence he is either stoned or beaten. 
In the face of resistance Banjaras get ex< ited and resort to 
great violence. 

When operating on roads, three or four will waylay solitary 
cart-men who overpowered by numbers, are made to deliver 
over grain, valuables or cash in their possession ; a larger num- 
ber will hold up a string of carts and rifle each deliberately and 
leisurely. Roads leading through solitary tracts or hilly coun- 
try are usually selected for exploitation during the day, so as 
to ensure safe retreat. For night crimes, they are not so 

Dacoities of all kinds are committed in the manner common 
to most other criminals. There are no noteworthy character- 
istic variations in the Banjaras' methods and preparations. 
The attack is ushered in by a volley of stones. Approaches 
are guarded by men armed with slings and stones. To the 
cries of ' Din ! Din ! ' the main body comes to close quart er> 
and use their sticks and other weapons they carry, freely. 
Swords and guns if available, are used for purposes of intimida- 
tion. To each other, Hindustani words are sometimes spoken ; 
but more often signals, conveyed by guttural sounds, are used. 
In retreat they will endeavour to mislead pursuit by departing in 
a direction opposite to their real destination, dropping valueless 
articles of the ' loot ' as they go, splitting up and travelling by 
unfrequented roads and across country, and by other subterfuges 
common among most criminals. 

Each gang works under the orders of a leader known as 
' naik,' and in the Carnatic as ' salia.' He plans the 
expedition with the other participators, usually twenty or so, and 
meets initial outlay on consulting omens, propitiating the deity, 
and so on. 

Information is occasionally obtained by one of the 
personally reconnoitring, but usually through friendly liqunr- 
vendors, resident Banjaras, village Marwadis, and local bad 
characters. The last mentioned often join in the commission 
of crime. 

When delivering an attack, Banjaras arm themselves with 
sticks often cut from trees cu route, slings and st-ones, sirkle> 
and, if obtainable, swords and guns. 

Dacoities and robberies are sometimes committed while a 
ti'inda is on the move from one encampment to another. I'nder 
such circumstances the old men and women accompany their 


goods and chattels, which are carried on the pack-bullocks, while 
some of the able-bodied men strike off to some distant place 
previously fixed upon, rapidly perpetrate a dacoity and rejoin 
the main body on the march. 

In raiding crops and threshing-floors, the early hours of 
morning, when the custodians are likely to be asleep, are 
usually selected. While some keep guard over and deal with, 
if need be, the guardians of the crop .or grain as the case may 
be, others carry off loads of grain in blankets and bags. Stand- 
ing crops are, as a rule, robbed during the night. 

After the commission of dacoity or highway -robbery 
Banjaras call a short halt a mile or so from the scene of the 
offence and there take an easy, overhaul the spoil, and compare 
notes before final departure for their tdndas. 

They are fond of tobacco smoking from hookahs at home, 
and away from home from chilams or cleverly rolled leaf pipes 
(chuttas). The discovery of such or of pdu-siipdri bags 
ornamented with cowri shells or looking-glass at the scene of 
a crime point to Lambanis as the culprits, unless there is 
reason to suppose that perhaps Kaikadis or some other 
criminals may have deliberately deposited such articles in order 
to divert suspicion. 

Tactful enquiry among Lambanis living near the scene of 
an offence committed by Banjaras will sometimes prove 
effectual in obtaining a clue to the perpetrators should the 
latter belong to a distant tdnda. 

When indications point to Lambanis as the culprits, an 
immediate muster of the members of the suspected tamia 
should be taken, and the absence under any pretext or excuse 
of any member should be carefully enquired into, especially 
if there is reason to believe that during the commission of the 
crime any one of the culprits has been injured owing to 
resistance offered. 

The Gowaria appears to have no specially ingenious method 
for his occasional lapses into opium smuggling. The opium 
is procured from Native States and usually two to five 
individuals take part in the venture. On the outward journey 
they will travel both by road and rail, returning on foot by side 
tracks, keeping however near the direct route. When in 
possession of contraband, they travel at night and halt during 
the day burying the opium close by. Similarly, on arrival at 
home the opium is concealed under ground and retailed to 
opium eaters. 


Sickles, sticks, slings and stones are the principal weapons 
relied on in the commission of crimes 

Stockin-tradc, instruments Q f violence. Sometimes SDearS and 
and weapons used in commit- , , . . _. ' 

ting crime. knives are also carried, r ire-arms and 

swords are rarely used. Occasionally, 

and specially in the Carnatic, ' potash bombs ' are exploded 
to frighten villagers and create an impression that the gang 
carries fire-arms. 

Property, unless cash, is as a rule not concealed in the 
hiiida,} it is buried in the neighbour- 

Ways and means of conceal- noO cl in SOllie ndllall Or Other CO11- 
mg or disposing of stolen pro- . ~ , , ,, . ... 

perty. venient spot. Old wells in the vicinity 

of tdndas should receive attention when 

searching for property. Cotton and grain if not at once 
conveyed to ' receivers ' are hidden under leaves, grass, or 
in stacks. To prevent identification the borders of cloths are 
removed and the raw edges hemmed, valuable borders being 
disposed of for a consideration. 

Their ' receivers ' are many and among all sorts and condi- 
tions of men, but are chiefly liquor- vendors, Lingayats, Mar- 
wadis, coppersmiths, village sdivkdrs andpdti/s. Small articles 
of value are at times hidden in the folds of the women's dress 
or sewn into the bullock packs. On Major Gunthorpe's 
authority, when searching a tdnda it might prove useful to 
examine the contents of pots containing food being cooked, as 
it is stated to be a practice among Banjara females when taken 
unawares to deposit small articles of jewelry in these utensils 
and to make believe that cooking is in progress. 

Cattle are disposed of by ones and twos at a distance from 
the scene of the offence, sometimes to butchers and often at 
cattle bazars, probably under forged certificates of ownership 
or ddkhlas obtained under false pretences. 

Stolen ornaments are usually not distributed among tin- 
members of the gang; they are turned into cash, the ' salia ' 
or the leader of the gang getting two shares. 


Berads are also known as Bedars, Byaderu, Talvarru, 
Naikra-Makalru, and in parts of the 
^SbT" Belgaum District as Kataks (butchers, 


They are a numerous tribe inhabiting tracts in the Southern 
Habitat. Division of this Presidency, more parti- 

cularly the Dharwar, Belgaum and 

Bijapur Districts and the adjoining Native States and portions 
of the Madras Presidency. 

Their operations are confined to Kanarese- speaking tracts 
and to a radius of forty or fifty miles 
" an " f r m th eir homes. As a rule they do 
not go so far. Berads live and are 
settled in villages like other Hindus ; they do not lead a 
wandering life. 

The Bombay Presidency census of 1901 gives a gross 
population of over one and three 

Population according to last nnar f pr 1-alfhs More than a hlrhliw 

census, and distribution. quarter laKns. ivion cnan a laKn live 
in the Dharwar and Belgaum Districts 

alone. The following are the strength and distribution of the 
class according to the 1901 census returns: 

Males. Females. 

Belgaum ... ... 24,128 23,908 

Dharwar ... ... 34,042 34>339 

Bijapur ... 13,199 i3>43 6 

Kanara ... ... 884 784 

Kolhapur ... 4,535 4,5 2 6 

Northern Division ... 48 58 

Southern Maratha Country ... 8,043 8,316 

Savantvadi ... ... 42 34 

Savnur 363 331 

Ratnagiri ... ... 70 89 

Central Division ... ... 2,677 2,621 

Native States in the Central 312 297 

Total ... 88,344 88,738 

In physique and physical attributes as well as in their mode 
of living and habits Berads closely 

Appearance, dress, etc. i_i T L- TM i- L 

resemble Kamoshis. Ihey are dirty 
livers and feeders, have coarse features, are of dark complexion, 


\\cll built, of good physique, wiry, muscular, active, llt-ct of foot, 
possessed of great powers of endurance and quick of vision and 
hearing. Thirty miles to a Berad on a dark night over rough 
country is nothing extraordinary. They are very fond of 
hunting pig on foot with dogs and spears. 

The men wear a head-scarf, a. pninin, kurta or shirt, and 
drawers (cholnas) or dhotar according to fancy, and in hilly 
tracts laxgotis or l<ings t all of coarse cloth, also ear and finger 
rings. The women, who are a~s hardy as the men, wear tin- 
bodice and sari (the latter they do not draw up between 
the legs), and ornaments common to the Hindu women 
of the Carnatic. 

Berads are addicted to liquor and are fond of gambling. 

Much interesting information on this class will be found in 
Colonel Meadows Taylor's " Story of My Life." The State of 
Shorapur, over the fortunes of which he presided during the 
minority of the ' Rajah,' lies to the east of the Bijapur District. 
It was a flourishing Bedar State, the princely family of which 
belonged to this tribe. The character given to the " Clans of 
the Twelve Thousand," by Colonel Meadows Taylor, shows 
what a valorous, chivalrous, yet withal lawless rabble this class 
could be. He speaks of them as far superior to Bhils, Gonds 
and such classes and adds that they were practically under no 
control, owing allegiance to the heads of their clans only. 

Coming to recent history the turbulent and restless spirit 
of the Bedars was manifested in the Belgaum District in 1895 
when they got out of hand and openly defied the law roaming 
the country in organized gangs of dacoits and fearlessly resist- 
ing all efforts to capture them. Measures on a large scale had 
to be undertaken with a view to the total and final extermina- 
tion of these organized bands. A large armed police force 
was drafted into the disturbed area and the military were also 
requisitioned but owing to the nature of the country and the 
proximity of Native States little headway was made for some- 
time. Later, the offer of large rewards ultimately brought 
about the capture of some of the ringleaders. This broke the 
back of the organization and in a few months all the gangs had 
been brought to book, but not without loss to the police, of 
whom two of the Belgaum force, two of Sangli and one from 
Kurundvad met their death, two others being mutilated. Kight 
villagers were also killed by the P>erads including two ' infonn- 

' and two were mutilated. Three Berads were shot by the 
police; over 200 were captured for dacoity, murder, etc., of 


whom a large number were sentenced to lengthy terms of 
imprisonment. Many receivers of stolen property were success- 
fully dealt with, and steps were taken against certain rich 
land-holders who were conclusively proved to have harboured 
proclaimed offenders. 

Years have elapsed since the events chronicled above, but 
constant vigilance on the part of the police is still necessary to 
keep this class in check. 

Their mother-tongue is impure Kanarese. Some who live 

in or near Manithi-speaking districts 

Ct o a f n s d p eech" lia s P e ak corrupt Marathi or Hindustani, 

while in some of the villages near 

Belgaum ' Vaddari ' is the dialect used. 

So far as can be ascertained, Bedars 

Slang used. , , 

have no slang. 

Many are honest and hard-working. A few are jagirdars 
and hereditary pdtils, a large number 
ble iihTod" S sanadis (village police), village ser- 

vants and night watchmen, others 

land-owners in a small way, cultivators, field labourers, cattle- 
herds, domestic servants, coolies, mill hands, etc. A few live 
by plying carts for hire and by collecting and selling wood 
and other jungle produce and sortie are employed in the police. 

Some of the women are ' jogters 'or prostitutes. 

Addicted as they are to cattle lifting, Berads often pass 
themselves off as cattle dealers, and 
they sometimes disguise themselves 
as high caste Hindus. When actuallv 
committing crime, to avoid identification or recognition, the 
Berad will frequently discolour his face with ashes or some- 
thing of the sort or wear a blanket over the head. 

Gang and highway robbery, dacoity, especially in buildings, 
crop stealing, sheep and cattle lifting. 

Crime to which addicted. 11 Iu r. t i f 

burglary and petty tnetts are the forms 

of crime especially favoured by Berads. The blood of the free- 
booter runs in their veins, and as a tribe they are liable, with 
any disturbing cause, to form gangs, go into outlawry, disturb 
the. peace of the countryside, and defy the police and author- 

Between January and May their activities are directed mainly 
to cattle lifting, dacoity, robbery and petty thefts; June to 
October is their favourite time for burglary ; from November to 


January they get agricultural and other honest employment 
and are not therefore so dependent on crime. 

When bent on sheep stealing at night from a pen or net 
enclosure, the expert Berad. in an- 

Metnods employed in com- , - .in i i 

mining crime, and distinguish- preaching the flock, imitates, it is said, 
'"g characteristics likely to the movements and progress of a wild 

animal and there is a current belief 

that his hands are sometimes armed with metal claws, a sort 
of ?v tig hunk arrangement, with which he seizes the sheep. 

Cattle are stolen from sheds and yards near houses at 
night and driven off to some safe place in the jungles where 
they are tethered till the thieves ascertain whether the com- 
plainant is willing to pay blackmail for their restoration or 
intends to have recourse to the police. In the latter event the 
cattle are driven further away and either killed or otherwise 
disposed of. If blackmail is forthcoming, it is obtained through 
an agent and the cattle are either driven to a pound from 
which the owner, after paying the pound charges, recovers 
them, or are left at some spot to which the owner is directed. 

Berads addicted to dacoity or other serious crimes of 
violence well know how the jurisdiction question hampers police 
enquiry : therefore, in selecting the scene of crime they often 
calculate on this and lay their plans accordingly. In the 
actual commission of the offence and retreat from the scene 
of crime, their tactics and methods do not differ materially from 
those of Ramoshis. When house-breaking, they effect entrance 
by the ' bagli ' (a hole near the door-frame by the fastening, 
sufficiently large to admit an arm), or ' rumali ' (a hole in the 
wall sufficient to admit a body) operation. 

The information on which they act in committing crime is 
obtained by personal enquiry or from friends among local bad 
characters, and not infrequently they are invited by some 
enemy of their victim to rob him. 

Berads are not particular about associating with members 
of other castes in the commission of crime. They are neither 
so cruel as, nor addicted to unnecessary violence like, the 

Their favourite implement for house-breaking is known as a 

stock in trade, instrument, kangrttti (an iron jemmy tapering to 

and weapons used in commit- a point at one end about 1 8 inches in 

length, i i inches in circumference),?'/^- 
exhibit 53 of the Bombay District Police Museum (Plate IV). 


Another instrument used for that purpose is known as arasn- 
kuchi (king's sceptre) about 18 inches in length and shaped 
like the head of a small, pick-axe, exhibit 41 of the Bombay 
District Police Museum (Plate IV). 

For the commission of dacoity or robbery they usually arm 
themselves with a hatchet or crow-bar to break open doors, a 
scythe or sickle, sticks, slings and stones to guard approaches 
and beat off pursuers, and with a sword or gun if they can 
secure either. When attacking a village in force they also 
make use of ' potash bombs ' to terrify the villagers and deceive 
them into the belief that the gang carries fire-arms. 

Property is buried in jungles, under trees, in dry water- 
ways and means of conceal- courses or in similar convenient hiding 
ing or disposing of stolen pro- places till a suitable opportunity for 

disposing of it arrives. 

Goldsmiths, liquor shop-keepers, village sdivkdrs and even 
pa tils and kulkarnis are their ' receivers.' 

Cattle are disposed of singly or in pairs (sometimes after 
the shape of their horns has been altered), at distant fairs, or 
restored through a middleman on payment of blackmail equi- 
valent perhaps to half the value of the animals. 


Iihumptas arc also known in different parts of the 
N ' imi ' oVtr"b,r Bombay Presidency 

( rhantiqhors (bundle-thieves), 

Uchlias (lifters), 

Khisa-katru (pocket-cutters), 




Tudug Wadru, 

Kamatis, and 

Path ruts. 

In the various provinces in India outside 'this Presidency 
they may possibly be known under some other names. 

It is probable that their original domicile was the Telegu- 
speaking country ; but in the present 
day, Bhampta settlements are to be 

found in several of the districts and Native States in and 
bordering on the Bombay Presidency. The Poona, Sataia, 
Ahmednagar and Sholapur Districts may however be regarded 
as their stronghold. The following are some of the villages 
in the Bombay Presidency and Native States where Bhamptas 
are known to have established themselves. The list is prob- 
ably not exhaustive, for the Bhampta travels far afield in the 
pursuit of crime and settles down where he finds congenial 
surroundings and forms useful connections. Many live in 
Bombay under the guise of Marathaa and successfully carry 
on their thieving avocation there, using the city as a base 
from which to work on the railways. 


Poona District. 

Village. T.iluka or I'ctln. 

I'.ojMxli Hav-'li. 

I'.hopkhrl DO. 

Fugyachi-Wcidi 1 )| >- 

Muiulli ; D<>. 

Wadgaon-sheri 1 ><>. 
Ni:ul).ilkar idu- \Va<l^non I Iliiinthadi or I'.aramati. 

( hojxlaj or I'.hatl^ax I >" 

\\ ki ... Dr.. 

Soinayai ha Karanja I ' 

Bhamptas in their ordinary clothes. 




Taluka or IVtha. 



Bhimthadi or Baramati. 



I alcgaon-Dhamdhere 



Ken door 












Satara District. 





Bhikar Vadgaon 

Tads a r 













Shin da 











Sholapur District* 

Ahmednagar District. 

Nasik District. 
















Taluka or IVtlu. 

Khandesh District. 

j-near Shirsoli, G. I. P. Ry. 
near Barhanpur,G.I.P.Ry. 
Belga u m Dist rict. 



Yamkanmardi (Yamagarli) 






Byadra Budihal 








Bijapur District. 













Dharivar District . 


Kolhapur State. 
Danoli ... ... Shirol. 

Shirgaon ... ... Do. 

Sangli State. 
Kowlapur, near Sangli. 

Akalkot State. 

Konaly (where Bhrimptas resort to worship ' Kali '). 

I ndore State. 
Dewas, 24 miles from Indore. 


His Highness the Nizam 's Dominions. 

Village. Taluka or Petha. 

Siddhapur ... H. HAhe Nizam's Tf-rritor- . 

Mungasi ... Do. 

Eknathwadi ... Do. 

Yellamwadi ... Do ") near Angar, 

Bhairwadi ... Do. J G. I. P. Ry. 

Shripatvvadi . . . Do. 

Okardi ... Do. 

Kharundi ... Do. 

There is no limit to the Bhampta's field of operations ; 
he travels and works all over India, 
even Assam, and no railway is im- 
mune from the Bhampta pest. But 
he confines his attentions almost entirely to railways, bunders, 
markets, temples and fairs, in fact anywhere where crowds 
collect, though he is not averse, while making a road journey, 
to plying his calling among fellow travellers. The railway 
however is the most lucrative and safest field for his activities. 
The conditions there are all in his favour. Unless caught 
red-handed or marked down by the police and taken out of the 
train before he has got to work, detection becomes almost 
impossible. The victim as a rule does not discover his 
loss for hours after the theft, by which time a hundred miles 
or more may separate him from the culprit and his lost pro- 
perty. He does not know who to suspect or where to locate 
the theft. He therefore, and because of the trouble and delay, 
involved, often does not complain at all to the police. If 
he does, with the scanty information he can furnish, and 
other obvious drawbacks to successful detection, the police 
are so handicapped as to be able to do very little to help 

The Bhampta is not a wanderer in the sense that he travels 
about with his goods and chattels changing his residence. 
He makes himself a home in some village and beyond more or 
less prolonged absence from that home while on thieving 
expeditions, there he is settled. Occasionally for some special 
reason, domestic or otherwise, for instance when he has made 
a district too hot for him, a Bhampta will remove with his 
family and belongings from one village to another. Similarly, 
many have left their original villages, formed connections else- 
where and there made homes for themselves. But they do not 
lead a gipsy life. 


Gangs of men, women, and children will leave their homes 
in pursuit of crime and travel far afield putting up in gardens, 
dharamsdlds, temples and the like, pretending to be Marathas 
or cultivators from a famine-stricken district in search of 

According to the Bombay Presidency census of 1901 the 
Bhamptas in the Presidency proper 

Population according to last number a little over 6oo males and 
census, and distribution. about the same number of females, 

distributed as under: 

British Districts. 

Males. Females. 

Poona ... ... 200 161 361 

Satara ... ... 95 106 201 

Bijapur ... ... 80 83 163 

Khandesh ... ... 67 79 146 

Belgaum ... ... 51 .72 123 

Ahmednagar ... ... 10 9 19 

Sholapur ... ... 4 2 6 

Native States. 

Kolhapur ... ... 79 98 177 

Southern Maratha Country ... 31 34 65 

Satara Agency ... ... 4 6 i> 

The above figures are, it is to be feared, misleading, the 
reasons being fairly obvious. Firstly, a large number of the 
male Bhamptas is always away from home on thieving expedi- 
tions (this also accounts for the number of females returned 
exceeding the males) ; secondly, no doubt many of the caste 
did not disclose their identity as Bhamptas when the census 
was taken but returned themselves as Marathas or Hindus of 
other castes. 

With the exception of such castes as Mangs, Mahars, 
Chambhars, Dhors and Buruds, 

Appearance, dress, etc. _^, ' IT . , , . 

Bhamptas admit all Hindus ot the 

upper and middle classes, such as Wanis, Marwadis, Sutars, 
etc., into their tribe. Mahomedans and Berads are also admis- 
sible. They adopt children of other castes and bring them 
up to their own profession. Adopted boys are called ' Konnad ' 
or ' Golyad;' girls ' Konnadi.' It is said that Uchlias will 
go so far as to give shelter, in certain cases, to a woman who 
has got into trouble and belongs to a respectable family. 
When the child is born, the Bhampta keeps it and sends the 
mother home with a siiri and a rupee or two. 


In every village they have a headman of their own, who is 
usually the oldest resident Bhampta. He is designated ' patil,' 
' talmad,' ' taldaru ' or ' kattimani,' and is the spokesman for 
the Bhamptas of the village, presides at caste meetings and is 
socially respected. " Honour among thieves " is apparently at 
a discount among them seeing that there is a well-established 
trial by ordeal styled ' Tel-rawa ' for the purpose of ascertain- 
ing the truth in cases of infidelity among the women and with- 
holding of profits on any member's part. The method is 
merely to require the suspected person to pick out a pice or 
other small object from boiling oil, the person succeeding in 
doing this unscathed being of course considered guiltless. It 
appears rather a futile ordeal if, as alleged, a hand wet with 
water can be introduced into the boiling oil without particular 
damage, provided the operation is performed smartly. 

Having an admixture of other castes and living the life 
they do, Bhamptas conform to no particular type. Most are 
below the average height, some are fair, others very dark. All 
are wiry and active rather than powerful and robust. The 
women are comely but mostly of loose morals. 

As a rule Bhamptas dress well, are particular as to their 
personal appearance and live in a superior style but without 
display. The women dress like Marathas, sometimes like 
Brahmin women and wear nose-rings. They tattoo their 
hands and faces, the left hand being tattooed more profusely 
than the right. 

The Bhampta when on the war-path is always on the alert. 
He can neither sit still long nor keep his eyes still. He is 
always on the look-out, taking stock of people, things and the 
situation generally. He can often thus be identified by an 
observant or intelligent police officer. 

It is said to be a lule among Bhamptas not to give a girl 
in marriage till the intended husband has proved himself a 
dexterous thief. Instances of intermarriage between Kaikadis 
and Bhamptas are not unknown. 

Bhamptas will eat with or from the hands of those of other 
castes who are admissible into their own. They are gross 
feeders, relishing even a scavenging pig, and are also fond of 

Among themselves Bhamptas speak a corrupt language 
called ' Waddari ' or debased form of 

Dialect of nd s P S! ia Telegu. They also speak Marathi, 

Hindustani, and Kanarese. In speak- 



ing Kanarese they dn>p their ' hs.' The homr lan^ua^e of 
some of the Ghantichors of the Bijapur District is Kanaivsr. 

The following are a 

SI. in,' and signs used. 

few of the words and expressions 
used among themselves by Bhamptas ; 
some are slang, the rest are corrupt 
Telegu : 


ulnuikh or waghnak 
dangi kushi 
nella kukkulu 
talapu kayal 
tapshi chap 

bokh parshoti gootham.. 

jarigi yelgya 
pur yelgya 
phadda ill 
y.-rra mankad 
ycrra mothad 
antha hangar 
antha endi 

muchil battal or dontu .. 

curved knife, 
chief constable, 
police officer, 
arrived, came, 
conceal yourself, 
gold ornaments, 
an official, 
there is. 

inspector or chief constable, 
speak to deceive, 
don't tell, 
bundle, loot, 
great, heavy, much, 
he has. 
a purse. 

small, light. 

nail (for house-breaking), 
a hole. 

a nail to make a hole. 
a wall. 
go away, 
run away. 
great house, i.e., prison. 

a European. 

gold property. 
an ornament. 
silver property. 
stolen property. 

stolen cloth. 
a bag. 
to esi a; 
railway train. 


2 3 

Slang used by the Ghantichors of the Bijapur District and 
known to the Bhamptas of the Deccan : 

Slang. Meaning. 

piskat . . . knife. 

telpadu . . . ) 

kayal . .. \ rupees. 

waipalu . . . j 

yendi ... silver. 

goshad ... Brahmin. 

yardi ... gold. 

padda . . . go on. 

badka . . . ornament, property. 

par yelgar ... to escape or run away. 

kansya ... a villager. 

bantgia, bantker ... a sepoy, a constable. 

gainu ... house. 

The following slang expressions are peculiar to the Ghanti- 
chors of the Bijapur District : 

Slang. Meaning. 

irat ... patil. 

dodd irat ... police officer, 

netgar .. walikar (village police), 

kevrer ... woman, 

pinner . boys, 

koddarki ... theft, 

mot ... bundle, 

dugani . purse containing cash, 

kempu . . gold, 

kadu ... property, 

budsu . . . run away, 

chapra madiko ... conceal, 

kodru ... thief, 

gaina wadsu ... house breaking, 

shato ... the beating of a decoyed 

' receiver ' or dupe. 

Special signs in use among Deccan Bhamptas are pecu- 
liar and worthy of note. One Bhampta warns another by first 
coughing and then clearing the throat ; this is done quietly if 
police are about or noisily if the person to be warned is at a 
distance and the coast is clear. He never points with the hand 
or finger, does not look in the direction from which danger is 
expected, but points with the elbow while scratching his head. 
If he wishes to intimate to a friend that he is being watched, 
he will, when scratching his head, work his elbo\v backwards. 
If a Bhampta is awaiting the arrival of a train in which he 
expects friends and notices the police are watching him, he 
will twist one end of his shoulder cloth (wbarm) round one arm 


to indicate that lit- is tied up, and if he intends his triends not 
to alight, he will scratch his head and work his elbow in the 
direction the train is moving; this all means ' i am watched ; 
continue your journey.' There is no slang for ' eoine h' 
the elbow movement does instead of a word. 

When a gang of Bhamptas disperses in small detachments 
under arrangement to meet at the same place later on. each 
group, before separating, will bury some money or property at 
some spot known to the other groups and close to the rendez- 
vous. Each party as it returns looks up these hiding pl.t 
and if any of the hidden property has been removed it is under- 
stood that the particular detachment that buried it has returned 
and gone on. 

Bhamptas before leaving a halting place will bring the lops 
of their cooking stones together to indicate to those following 
that they have moved on. They are clever in the matter of 
identifying the foot-prints of their friends. If Bhamptas wish 
to intimate, to others following, where thcv have gone, they will, 
after arranging the cooking stones as above described, scrape 
a mark with the side of the foot in the direction they propose 
moving, and leave an imprint of a naked foot across the he.;j> 
of earth they have thus scraped together pointing to the diivc- 
tion in which they have gone. This mark may extend to 
fifty yards from the fireplace : if necessary, two or three of these 
drags are made, fifty or hundred yards apart, at cross roads. 

There is a sort of freemasonry among Bhamptas which 
enables them to recognize one another even though not 
personally acquainted, and it is believed they possess certain 
secret signs, connected with the eyes and fingers, whereby 
they can recognise and communicate with each other when 

Bhamptas follow ordinary rural avocations and occasionallv 
the more well-to-do trade in a small 
' ibS as merchants or sdwkdrs. Some 

cultivate land on a large scale and 

labour in the fields during harvest time. Hut nmstlv those 
who own land rent it to others, not infrequently to the village 
dman. Some are rich in land and cattle and find no 
difficulty in furnishing security if called on to do so. If a 
Bhampta is bound over under Chapter VI 1 1 of the Criminal 
Procedure Code, he refrains altogether from crime during the 
period he is bound over for. Immediatelv the period has expired 

Bhamptas in disguise. 

(From a photograph found in a Bhamptas house. J 


li<- leaves home and takes to crime again. If asked what is 
their ostensible means of 'livelihood, Bhamptas will often naivelv 
say they ' visit bazars and earn a living.' 

The numerous disguises the Bhampta makes use of, and 
the variety of methods he has recourse 
l "" s to for accomplishing his purpose, make 
him difficult to recognise. Most com- 
monly he dresses as a well-to-do Maratha, either on pilgrimage 
or sight-seeing, sometimes as a poorer member of that com- 
munity in search of work. He is often to be met with in the 
guise of a prosperous Marwadi or Hindu trader ; of Lingayat, 
Jangam, Brahmin, or shepherd ; sometimes in that of a minstrel, 
Sadhu, mendicant, Sanadi Korwa (musician), or Deccan 
Bhat. Thus the Bhampta is an adept at making himself up 
and passing himself off as a member of any caste or calling 
and obtaining admission, without suspicion, into superior class 
railway accommodation, to temples and places resorted to by 
the better class of travellers and pilgrims. 

In some of the Bombay chawls, considerable numbers are 
frequently to be found posing generally as Marathas. A 
gang will settle down as Marathas under assumed names in 
large up-country cities for months at a time, being often joined 
by their wives. From such temporary head -quarters the 
males will make periodical and lengthy excursions along railways 
and to fairs to commit crime, till their suspicious movements 
and want of an ostensible occupation perhaps, give rise to 
inconvenient enquiries, when the gang immediately make them- 
selves scarce. Occasionally one of the party acts the part of 
a holy and learned man or of a medicine man and the others 
that of his disciples and cheat people into giving money. 

Women do not dress themselves up in any disguise, but 
pose as members of some superior caste. 

Ghantichors of the Bijapur District also pass themselves off 
in the Central Provinces as ' Kangrawallas.' 

The Bhampta today is an expert professional pick-pocket 
and railway thief. He is also dexterous 

Crime tu which addicted. rr i 

at removing ornaments on the persons 

of women and children in a crowd, at landiiii/ places, fairs, in 
bazars and in temples. In fact his chief occupation is thiev- 
ing on railways and anywhere in crowds and he succeeds, under 
almost impossible circumstances. 

26 CRIMINAL (. I.. \SSKS, HO.Ml'.AY I'R KSI 1 )l-..\( Y. 

Comparatively recently Bhamptas have taken to burglary 
and even robbery, forming gangs of a dozen or more tor the 
purpose. Originally it seems, Bhamptas were pick-pockeis 
pure and simple, fairs and bazars and the like offering a lar^e 
field for their activities. And it was a rule among them not to 
commit, on pain of expulsion from the caste, crime between 
sunset and sunrise. All this is however now altered. 

With the advent of the iron horse, railways afford the 
Bhampta the most lucrative fields for his activities and he \\ill 
commit crime at all hours of the day or night, as opportunity 

Both sexes are adept at thieving, whether on the railway or 
in crowds ; but the women, who do not travel so much or so far 
afield as the men, confine their activities chiefly to compart- 
ments for females on railways, fairs, temples, bazars, etc. 

Uchlia women of the Satara District are reported to be 
less criminal than their caste sisters elsewhere. 

The Ghantichors of the Carnatic are addicted to gang 
robbery and an instance is on record of a gang which had 
committed a series of organized dacoities in two districts, 
having been arrested with 4,000 rupees' worth of stolen goods. 

Burglary by day and by night and robbery or cheating 
a would-be ' receiver ' after decoying him to a lonely spot are 
other forms of crime to which the Ghantichors of the Carnatic 
are prone. 

Another crime known as ' ramthadi ' to \vhich the Ghanti- 
chor is addicted, is cheating by the substitution of brass 
mohurs or beads, similar to those worn by women in neck- 
laces, for gold ones. 

Both sexes are early trained to follow the profession of 
crime and soon become experts. 

Methods employed in com- >-., ., , ~ . -ir 

mining crime, and distinguish- Children are first taught to pilfer 
ing characteristics likely to shoes, cocoanuts, etc., and are liberallv 

afford a clue. , . ' , f c . . . 

chastised tor want ot proficiency in the 

course of their education. The women are as adept as tin- 
men. Boys are expert at removing ornaments off the persons 
of children. These juvenile thieves entice their victims away 
to a quiet spot, by displaying sweetmeats, copper coins or 
bhorangis (hopping insects) tied to a thread, and then relieve 
them of their ornaments. 

There is nothing distinctive about the burglaries committed 
by Bhamptas, for they have but recently taken to this form of 


crime and have not studied it seriously. As a rule they do not 
break through walls, but when they do they make the hole near 
the door or window frame in the ' bagli ' fashion. Boys and 
women are utilized for obtaining information of likely houses. 

The dark half of the month is selected and two, four or five 
form the gang. Three is considered an inauspicious number. 
One man is chosen to be the leader, and he is styled ' Rangated.' 
It is his duty to enter the house and secure the property. In 
return for the greater risk he runs and the position of responsi- 
bility he occupies he gets a larger share of the spoil. Houses 
situated on the outskirts of villages are invariably selected to be 
broken into as there is less risk in burgling them, and these 
afford greater facilities for the removal of property and for 
escape in case of a surprise. Those who remain outside keep 
a sharp look-out and are provided with stones which they only 
use to cover retreat in case of pursuit or to assist the leader in 
getting out of the house. 

Highway robbery is planned and carried out in the following 
manner : A gang of Bhamptas got up as Bhats (fortune- 
tellers) seek out their prey in big fairs and bazars. So dis- 
guised they ingratiate themselves with people who are appa- 
rently well-to-do and worth robbing. Finding out all about 
their intentions in respect to departure homewards, they lay in 
wait for them and loot them on the road at some convenient 

In the same disguise they also visit villages and getting 
hold of some communicative lad they ascertain from him names 
and other particulars about well-to-do persons in the village. 
They then proceed to question the boy about domestic occur- 
rences in the families and find out all they can. Thus primed 
they visit a house, surprise and convince the occupants 
of their skill by the way they are able to accurately ' tell ' 
incidents in the family history. Encouraged, they go on to 
predict that if certain charms they possess are used there will 
be a birth or some other auspicious event and rejoicing in the 
family. Females are, as a rule, imposed on in this way 
and persuaded to part with pieces of jewellery in payment for 
this charm. They also in the same way obtain admission to a 
house, mark down where valuables are kept, the best wav 
of getting at them and then, at a suitable opportunity, commit a 

Bhamptas generally leave home in batches of eight or ten 
splitting up into smaller parties later on and working from some 


central base. When away from their homes thev invariably 
assume fictitious names and pass themselves off as Marathas 
or members of any caste other than their own. Needless to 
say they never, unless confronted by Bhampta ' informers/ or 
experienced police officers who know Bhamptas, when arrested 
on suspicion or taken red-handed, give their real names and 
very seldom the names of their villages. Neither will thrv 
recognise nor implicate any one of their confederates. When 
arrested up-country however, and a long way from their homes 
they not infrequently disclose the names of their villages cor- 
rectly but never their own. 

In crowds, at fairs, landing places, temples and in railway 
third class passenger sheds and on bazar days, they will work 
in small gangs of two three or four, often accompanied by a boy. 
While one stealthily removes an ornament, picks or cuts off a 
pocket, or, to cover his actions, jostles or hustles up against his 
victim in the crowd and forcibly removes what he is after, the 
others, men or women as the case may be, are at hand and so 
dispose themselves as to quickly and cleverly pass, if necessary, 
the property stolen, from one to the other till, in an incredibly 
short space of time, it is far away. Thus, if perchance the victim 
of the theft feels he has been robbed and seizes or taxes the 
culprit, there is nothing on, or in the appearance of, the res- 
pectable and innocent-looking Bhampta thief to give him away 
and of course he immediately waxes eloquent in virtuous indig- 
nation at the accusation. 

The boy is made use of to give signals and draw off atten- 
tion if need be, from the culprit either before the theft is 
accomplished or after, as circumstances require. Other 
methods are as follow : If the booty to be secured is a 
bundle under the head of a man dosing or asleep the Bhampta 
will prick the sleeper's feet while his confederates remove Un- 
bundle the moment the man starts up to see what has bitten 
him. If a bundle belonging to some woman seated on the 
ground is coveted, a male Bhampta will squat in front of the 
woman to make water. When the woman modestly averts her 
face or turns round, a confederate makes away with her bundle. 

The Bhampta is above all things resourceful and ingenious. 
He beats his child, who with cries and screams rushes to a 
well-to-do person close by, who comforts it, only to discover 
later on that he was relieved of some valuable, whilst the child 
he sympathised with and who has been trained to kick and 

am was being dragged away from him. The. substitution of 


a bag identical in shape, colour and size but containing copper 
coin or even pebbles, for a bag of silver belonging to a shroff, 
while the latter's attention is momentarily diverted by a con- 
federate, is another of the Bhampta's dodges for making a haul. 

These instances suffice to demonstrate the ingenuity a 
Bhampta brings to bear on his work. He can adapt himself 
to practically any situation and vary his side-play and modus 
operandi as circumstances require. 

While working on railways Bhamptas thieve chiefly at night 
of course, rarely or never alone, and in third class carriages and 
waiting rooms, if possible when other passengers are asleep. 
They usually work in twos and threes. To avoid recognition 
by police they are very careful of course in selecting stations 
from which they depart and at which they alight. They have 
so many ways of disguising themselves that it is difficult for 
any but really experienced police officers to identify them. 

Lieutenant Colonel Portman, a former Superintendent of 
Police on the G. I. P. and B. B. & C. I. Railways, in an 
interesting note written in 1887, describes their modus operandi 
concisely and accurately as follows : 

" Two or more Bhamptas go to a station dressed in some sort of 
disguise or in good clothes and taking a canvas or carpet bag with 
them, purchase tickets for some place far or near ; they then look out 
for passengers also having bags which look as if likely to contain 
something valuable, and they follow such persons into the same 
carriage and, sitting near, endeavour to. enter into a conversation, 
ask them where they are going and at what station they intend 
alighting. After a time it begins to get dark or, if it is already dark, 
when others begin to drop off to sleep, one of the Bhamptas lies 
down on the floor and covers himself with a large cloth under the 
pretence of going to sleep ; his confederate also, putting his legs on 
the opposite seat, spreads out his cloth, thus more or less concealing 
the man lying down ; this latter, when all appears quiet, begins mani- 
pulating the bag he has spotted with his hands to feel if anything 
valuable is there, and if he cannot succeed in getting his hand into 
the bag, he takes from his mouth a small curved knife, which all 
Bhamptas carry concealed between their gum and upper lip, and 
with that he rips the seams of the bag and takes out what he finds, 
stitching up the seam, if time and opportunity permit. He then passes 
up what he has stolen to his confederate and at the next station the 
two get out of the carriage and either leave the train or get into 
another carriage, and if there is any complaint of loss, they throw the 
things out of the window and subsequently go back along the line to 
recover them ; or, instead of cutting open the bag they quietly, whilst 
the owner is asleep, exchange hags and disappear at the first oppor- 
tunity and the unfortunate victim discovers what has happened only 


perhaps when he arrives at his destination, when he reports his loss 
to the police, who naturally find great difficulty in tracing up the 
theft. These men will, as a rule, steal anything however small in 
value and it is needless to say that sometimes they make heavy hauls, 
much to the detriment of railway passengers. They also contrive by 
slitting open pockets etc., to remove articles from the persons <>i 
travellers who in a crowd do not notice what is going on and rarely 
perceive who is the thief." 

It is wonderful how clever and quick Bhamptas, both male 
and female, are at selecting their victims, fraternizing with them 
and afterwards ripping open their bags and extracting valuables 
or boldly removing articles of their luggage. If the passenger 
places his bag on the bench beside him, the Bhampta seats 
himself alongside the bag and while to all appearances he is 
slumbering peacefully or the passenger is actually dosing, his. 
fingers are at work. Or, if a passenger shows signs of being 
sleepy and seems to want room to stretch himself out, the 
Bhampta is very courteous and obliging in offering to make 
room for him by lying down on the floor of the carriage where 
bags and boxes are usually kept. 

Having secured his booty, the Bhampta will either quickly 
leave the train altogether, change carriages, or, if in danger of 
suspicion attaching to him or discovery, will pass the property 
to his confederate or throw it out of the train (making a mental 
note of the place), as circumstances dictate. If caught before 
he can get away, he will bluff the people in the carriage, the 
police and station staff at small stations, to any extent and 
very successfully put on an air of injured innocence, which often 
results in his being allowed to depart with many apologies, or, 
in his being able to slip away while the solitary policeman at 
the station is wiring to his superiors. 

If unsuccessful in the train, they will follow a victim after he 
alights, keep near him in the passenger shed or dharamsdld } 
and taking advantage of the first favourable opportunity, remove 
his bag or box. 

Bhamptas will also visit railway stations at night and boldly 
lift bags and articles from second and even first class carriages. 
An instance of a particularly bold case of this sort occurred in 
the year 1898 when a Bhampta one night lifted His Kxcellency 
the Governor's valuable travelling bag from the brilliantly lighted 
gubernatorial saloon of the Southern Mahratta Railway, under 
lli<- very noses of a strong body of police escorting the train. 
The loss was not discovered till the next morning. The guilty 
Hhampta was some months later arrested by the District l'<>li< 


the mutilated bag and some of the contents recovered and the 
accused convicted. 

At stations the off-side of trains should be carefully watched 
for Bhamptas, because, if possible, they prefer to alight there if 
they have made a haul, to doing so from the proper side. 

Bhamptas are also very quick and active at getting into 
and leaving carriages while trains are in motion, and at walking 
along the foot-boards. They often board first and second class 
carriages in this way. 

Cheating ' receivers ' is committed in this wise. A ' receiver ' 
is decoyed to some unfrequented spot outside the village. 
Genuine ornaments are shown and the price is fixed. When 
money is being counted, a confederate in the guise of a police 
officer is seen approaching, and in the confusion that follows 
the false ornaments instead of the genuine ones are slipped 
into the hands of the ' receiver ' and all decamp before the bogus 
policeman arrives. This form of crime often develops into 
robbery by forcing the ( receiver ' to surrender the cash brought 
for the purchase of the jewellery without giving anything in 

Bhamptas are apt to be very violent and troublesome when 
they outnumber the police sent to search a Bhampta colony 
for property or absconded individuals. In such eircumstances 
when the odds are on the side of Bhamptas, the police are set 
upon, assaulted, treated with indignity and turned out, the 
women also joining in the fray. The police should therefore 
always be in force and prepared for resistance when called on 
to work in Bhampta settlements. 

For breaking into houses a steel ulthani (the household 

implement for turning chapdtis) and a 

stock in -trade instruments p a jfa (j ron i ac n e ) or a large pointed 

and weapons used in commit- .... v i r i i i i 

ting crime. kmic is used ; tor picking and breaking 

locks and opening boxes a small metal 

hook, a korne (chunam scrape), exhibit 42 of the Bombay 
District Police Museum, betel-nut cracker or a chisel 
(Plate VII). The homely and domestic appearance of many 
of these articles disarms suspicion. 

For cutting open bags, pockets, and seams, and severing 
the fastenings of neck ornaments, the Bhampta carries a small 
sickle-shaped sharp knife known as ulmnkh or ivtiglunik, exhi- 
bit 10, Bombay District Police Museum (Plate VII), a pair of 
small scissors, or, in a bag round the waist, a piece of broken 
glass. The first is readily concealed in the mouth between the 


gum and upper lip or in a cavity in the throat, and by women 
in a small pocket in the bodice or in their hair- knobs, lie 
now-a-days also makes use of the ordinary small pocket 
penknife. These are sometimes concealed in brass snuff boxes 
or chunam receptacles of suitable sizes. Other articles form- 
ing his stock-in-trade when travelling on a railway are a bunch 
of keys, a needle and thread to stitch up bags which have been 
cut open, an umbrella, a carpet bag containing a few neces- 
saries for ready disguises, perhaps another filled with rubbish 
of sorts to substitute for some similar bag containing valuables 
belonging to a fellow traveller and from a recent instance on 
record, it seems that Bhamptas have now taken to providing 
themselves with a railway map of India with the names of 
stations translated into the vernacular. 

On his return from a thieving expedition a Bhampta in the 
Deccan has to pay a tax of two annas 

Ways and means of con j n t h e rUDCC to the pt'ttil (also Called 
cenhng or disposing of stolen ,11 i V\ r i i i 

property. thalmud ) of his caste, who in his turn 

pays to secure the silence of the village 
officers, who are well aware of the doings of the Bhamptas. 

As a rule stolen property is first buried, often near their 
halting place when away from home, and after the hue-and-cry 
is over, it is disposed of piece by piece or wholesale as practi- 
cable, through complaisant goldsmiths, Marwadis, liquor-vendors 
and the like. Property obtained in one province is freely and 
openly sold in another. 

In their villages and at .any temporary head -quarters when 
away on thieving expeditions, Bhamptas soon form connections 
and find a ready market for the proceeds of their crime among 
the numerous goldsmiths and Marwadis, only too anxious to 
turn a dishonest penny. Sometimes they send stolen property 
to their distant homes by parcel post to some relative for use 
or disposal according to fancy. But generally they consider it 
safer or more convenient to turn the stolen property into cash 
locally and to make remittances home by post office money 
order to those dependent on them. In this way they and 
others of the criminal fraternity find the post office a most 
U-M ful medium for the disposal of their ill-gotten gains. 

\Yhen sending parcels or money through the post. I'hamp- 
tas invariably make use of false names, agreed upon before 
leaving home or by letter, both for the sender and consigner or 
payer as the ea>r may be. Money orders and parcel etc, 
are also sometime? addressed to village /^,7/A or silwki'.rs. 


When making enquiries at and near Bhampta villages regarding 
the arrival and delivery of parcels and money orders, it 
should always be remembered that Bhamptas are open-handed 
and quick in making allies where it pays them to do so. 

It is needless to say that they, and especially their women, 
are very clever at secreting small articles of value about their 
persons, so when arrested, the latter should be most carefully 
and thoroughly searched by female searchers everywhere. 
Property if small, especially coins, will sometimes be found in a 
cavity in the throat, and occasionally are swallowed. Similarly 
searches in their houses must be most thorough, every nook 
and corner must be examined and suspicious-looking places in 
floors and walls dug up, for property has been found between 
double walls, in beams of the roof and other queer places. 
Seldom if ever however, is property identified as stolen, re- 
covered from Bhdmpta houses, and the great difficulty is to 
get property found with a Bhampta, identified. Search in 
a room or apartment occupied as a temporary abode by a 
Bhampta living under an assumed name and in disguise, while 
away from his village, will often result in the discovery of pro- 
perty which obviously has been dishonestly acquired. But 
probably because the property was stolen in another province, 
or at any rate a great distance away, and information of the 
theft has not reached the local police, identification becomes 
impossible for want of information or knowledge as to the 
victim of the theft. 

It is a fair assumption that the village officers of all villages 
in which Bhamptas have settled are more or less in league 
with them and receive a subsidy from the ill-gotten gains of 
these thieves. It occasionally happens that misunderstandings 
and quarrels occur among Bhamptas over the divisions of spoils 
and that the police in consequence obtain a clue. 


Rajput Bhamptas. 

Distinct from Bhamptas forming the subject of the preced- 
ing note, is a class of pick-pockets and 

Name of criminal class pilferers known as ' Raj put Bhamptas ' 

who owe their origin to the tribe of 

Sanorias, the great diurnal thieves of Bhopal and Bundelkhand. 
They are also known in some districts as Pardeshi Bhamptas, 
and are probably identical with the Jowari Bhamptas of 
Edalabad in His Highness the Nizam's Dominions. 

They are to be found in the Ahmednagar and Sholapur 
Districts and the Jath State, also in 
the Usmdnabad District of the Nizam's 

Dominions. In the Ahmednagar District they reside at Kharda 
and its hamlets Daradwadi, Gitewadi, Pandharychiwadi and at 
Khandwddi, a hamlet of Balgavan in the Jamkhed taluka. in 
the Sholapur District they are settled in Sonand, Pare, Hingargi 
and Narala of the Sangola taluka. These Sholapur villages 
being situated on the borders of the Jath State, offer a conve- 
nient shelter to those of the tribe who being wanted by the 
police, can cross the border immediately danger is sniffed. 

They travel all over India, notably the Madras Presidency 
and attend the fairs of Kartikswami, 

Sphere of activity and wan- Hampi and Gokarn Mahableshwar, 

accompanied by their females, and are 
usually absent from home for a year at a time. 

They number about 200 in the Ahmednagar and the Shola- 
pur Districts according to a census 
Population. taken by the District Superintendents 

of Police. 

A few are dark but most are fair or of sallow complexion. 
. They dress like Marathas, wear the 

Appearance, dress, etc. 1,1 i i , , / 

sacred thread, also kunanlas (rings 

or pendants) in the ears. Women never bore their nostrils nor 
wear nose ornaments nor tattoo the corners of their eyes ; those 
who are not married wear a row of red beads, with a single gold 
one in the centre, round the neck ; widows wear two and 
married women wear a double string of black beads with a 
small gold tali or charm attached. Women tie their s<iris 
as Brahmin women do, but the front folds of it are left hanging 
loose instead of being hitched up. 


The Rajput Bhampta is a great consumer of liquor and 
opium and being a first rate braggart often gives himself away 
when intoxicated. 

Among themselves they speak Hindustani. They can also 
speak Marathi. Kanarese, and Telegu 

Dialect and peculiarities fluently. A peculiarity in their speech 

is that they pronounce cha as chya. 

The following slang terms are 

S.ang used. .. , 

peculiar to them : 

Slang. Meaning. 

tholia ... chief constable. 

pondad ... police. 

kapapya ... patil. 

cherakalin ... kulkarni. 

kukad ... watchman. 

watmal . . . Mar.itha. 

dokara ... old man. 

dokari ... old woman. 

chawa ... child. 

ghabha ... house. 

pondad aichhe ... | h u 

ghabeku chaide ... j 

dhoti udhaya ... the gang has commenced opera- 


Many possess land but rarely cultivate it, they let it out on 
terms. The men are nearly always 

Ostensible means of live- absent from their villages but some of 

their women stay at home and attend 
to field work. 

When visiting fairs they assume the garb of Bairagis or 

Sadhus and add the suffix ' Das ' or 

Disguises adopted and means < Sing ' to their names ; but when ex- 

of identification. , . F , .. , '. ... - _ . 

ploiting the railway they dress like Mar- 

wadis and Brahmins. While moving about in the country they 
put up in the open at some distance from towns or villages and 
do not use tents or huts. 

They commit thefts in crowds, at fairs, places of pilgrim- 
, . , , age, etc., and in railway trains, gener- 

Cnme to which addicted. f? ' ' J .. ' *> . . 

ally by day only. Stealing by night 
is punished by excommunication. 


As a rule they work in threes ; one engages the victim's 
.... attention, the second secures the booty, 

Methods employed in com- , . . . . ~. . . . . -. 

mining criire.and distinguish- and the third makes on with it to their 
ing characteristics likely 10 encampment where it is hidden till the 

afford a clue. , r . , , ., . , 

hue-and-cry has subsided. They are 

experts at removing jewellery from the persons of children, 
and pocket-picking. They also hover on the banks of rivers 
and steal the clothing of bathers. When hard pressed they 
accept domestic service but invariably decamp with their 
employer's property or pass it out to a confederate who visits 
the house generally in the garb of a mendicant. A dhotar is 
usually thrown carelessly over the head when engaged in 
criminal operations. 

They use a short penknife, quite unlike the uluiukh of 

stcok-in-irade, insirun-.enis the Bhampta, or a pair of scissors or 

and weapons used in commii- piece of glass and in addition carry the 

\\heie\vithal for their disguises. 

Jewellery is sold as soon as possible. Other property is 

buried at some distance from the camp and carried in. ad vance when the gang 

ing or disposing of slolen pro- ,_. .. , . 

periy. moves. 1 hey dispose or stolen pro- 

perty to their ' receivers,' accepting 

very low prices, and remit the proceeds by money-order to 
their homes. Articles of considerable value are not as a rule 
disposed of but sent home by parcel post. 


Khandesh and Deccan Bhils may conveniently be 
Name of criminal class arranged under three groups, 
or tribe. namely: 

Plain Bhils, 

Hill and Forest tribes, 

Mixed tribes. 

The Plain Bhils, among whom are included Khotils, are 
known simply as Bhils and in parts of Khandesh as Khotils. 

The Forest and Hill tribes are as follows : 

Nahals. Mathwadis or Panaris. 

Pavras. Mavchis. 

Bardas. Varlis. 

Dhankas. Dangchis. 

The Mixed tribes are three, namely : 

Bhilalas (half Bhil and half Rajput). 

XT- ju- i half Bhil an d half Musalman. 
Nirdhis ) 

The large class of ordi lary or Plain Bhils and most of the 
wilder Hill and Forest tribes are again subdivided into an end- 
less number of clans, such as Pavar, Mali, Barda or Sonone, 
Mori, Ahir, Gaekwad, Shinde, Jadhav, Thakria, Vagh, 
Ghania, Pipale, etc. 

Gujerat Bhils belong to two main divisions, one of partly 
Rajput and the other of pure Bhil descent. The former have 
adopted certain Rajput clan names, such as Baria, Dangi, 
Ganva, Katara, Makvana, Parmar and Rathod. 

The pure Bhils found chiefly in Rewa Kantha and the 
Panch Mahals are of two kinds : Hill and Plain Bhils. These 
two kinds are further divided into numerous clans. But as all 
intermarry and differ in no way in their habit and custom, it 
would serve no useful purpose here to name the various clans. 

Bhils inhabiting some of the Native States under the 
Rewa Kantha and Mahi Kantha Agencies and other States 
adjoining the Modasa taluka of the Ahmedabad District and 


Jhalod of the Panch Mahals are called Vagadia Rhils. With 
these Vagadia Bhils the Gujerat Bhils of the Panch Mahals, 
Rewa Kantha and Mahi Kantha Agencies are said to be 
socially and criminally intimate. 

Bhils inhabit, in considerable strength, the wilder and out- 
lying parts of Central India, Raj- 
Habitat. J & ' . 

putana, Gujerat and Khandesh. rur- 

ther north they are found in parts of the United Provinces. 
South they live in considerable numbers in Ahmednagar 
and Nasik and there are a few families in Poona. Bhils are 
also met with scattered over Kathiawad and Cutch, in greater 
strength in the wilds of Thar and Parkar and in small numbers 
over almost the whole of Sind. 

A cluster of Bhil huts is called a ' Bhil-hatti.' 

Bhils are not a wandering tribe. They do not leave the 
district in which they are born unless 
n ' obliged and are great home lovers. 
The sphere of their activity does not 
as a rule extend beyond the taluka in which they live and 
others bordering on it. But when individuals or gangs take to 
outlawry they may overrun a considerable tract of country and 
can cover large distances in pursuit of crime or in evading 

Subjoined is a statement showing the Bhil population in 
Population according to last the Bombay Presidency according to 

census, and distribution. f-Jjg ce nSUS of 1 90 1 : 

Hindu Bhils. 

Males. Females. 

Bombay City ... ... 26 7 

Ahmedabad ... ... 1,350 1,244 

Broach ... ... 4,963 4,860 

Kaira ... ... 367 320 

Panch Mahals ... ... 36,935 37,618 

Surat ... ... 2,761 2,690 

Thana ... ... 115 43 

Cutch ... ... 175 210 

Kathiawad ... ... 815 810 

Palanpur ... ... 7,451 6,900 

Mahi Kantha ... ... 6,559 5.547 

Kc\\a Kantha ... ... 45,982 45,404 

Surat Agency ... ... 4 4 

Ahmednagar ... ... 7,183 7, -9* 

Khandesh ... ... 73,268 72,216 

Nasik ... ... 26,002 26,016 

Poona ... ... 431 324 

BHII.S. 39 

Hindu Bhils contd. 

Males. Females. 

Satara ... 



65 53 

Khandesh Agency 

... 10,073 9,618 


68 46 


8 12 


5 6 33 




9 6 


i,473 J ,5i3 


3,553 3,273 


2,601 2,067 

Thar and Parkar 

... 11,310 9,734 

Upper Sind Frontier 

37 6 257 


43 43 
v v ; 








4,885 4,970 


4 3 

Sholapur ... 


Khandesh Agency 

7 6 



Rewa Kantha ... 

6 8 


ii 5 

<c j 






... 12,577 12 , 2 52 

Panch Mahals . . . 

11,037 12,102 

Rewa Kantha ... 

9,001 9,119 


13 28 


5,669 5,9i6 


19 9 




Though belonging to one large family, the habits, appear- 
ance and mode of life of Bhils, influ- 

Appearance. dress, etc. , 1111 i- 

enced no doubt by the varying condi- 
tions of their environment, differ more or less with the part 
of the country in which they are domiciled. In respect to 
those living in Khandesh, the Pavra of the Akrani is describ- 


ed as a simple, honest and diligent cultivator, and a good, 
contented, law-abiding subject, giving very little trouble to 
either the Revenue or the Police authorities. 

The Dhankas of Taloda are a lazy, indolent class. Fur- 
ther west, the Mavchis of Nawapur are similar to the Pavras 
but not quite so industrious. They are a timid, inoffensive, 
quiet and well-behaved people, much given to drink and fond 
of finery but truthful withal. Very ignorant and superstitious, 
they trace all disasters to the influence of witches. Quite 
different to them are their neighbours the Dangchis or Dang 
Bhils with the Nahals (some of whom are Mahomedans), the 
most uncivilized of all the Bhil clans. Stunted in body by their 
drunken, dissolute life, and dulled in intellect by hardships and 
poverty, they are shy and unenterprising. 

The Tadvis, who are Mahomedans, are a superior race, of 
fairer complexion and with finer features, more inclined to 
agriculture than others of this restless class. They are, 
however, lazy, poverty-stricken and dislike hard work. They 
make fairly good armed policemen but are poor cultivators. 
The small Musalman clan of Nirdhis, who dwell in the Jamner 
and Pachora talukas, are now a fairly well behaved com- 
munity. But no matter whether they hail from the hills or 
from the plains, the principal characteristics of the majority of 
Bhils are the same incorrigible improvidence, total lack of 
responsibility, chronic laziness, aversion to work and love of 
women and liquor, weaknesses from which originate many of 
their misdeeds, a cheerful disposition and living a happy-go- 
lucky life, with no thought for the morrow. The Panch 
Mahals Bhils live in detached houses on their own lands, or in 
small scattered hamlets, and are generally industrious, hard- 
working agriculturists, though, like the Khandesh Bhils, they 
are fond of fishing and shikar and are greatly addicted to 
drink. Their speech, appearance, manners and customs vary 
considerably from those of the Khandesh Bhils. 

The Nasik and Ahmednagar Bhils in their mode of life 
more closely follow the Khandesh Plain Bhils and are mostly 
cultivators or labourers. They appear to have lost to a great 
extent, though not altogether, the love of shikar so charac- 
teristic of the Bhil and resemble more in character thr 

The Bhils of Mahi Kantha, Rewa Kantha and Palanpur 
approach the Panch Mahals Bhils in their appearance and 
ways and are on the whole a quiet though thriftless class. 

BHII.S. 41 

The costume of the Hill Bhil is mostly very scanty. He 
occasionally wears a bandi, or coat or covers himself with a 
blanket, but as often as not wears nothing above the waist. 
For nether garment he wears, as a rule, a dhotar extending 
only to the knee. 

The Plain Bhil is generally better clad, and differs but 
little in his dress from the lower classes in the district he 

In Gujerat the Bhil prefers to go about with but a loose 
sheet to cover the upper part of his body, a skimpy scarf or 
cap adorns his head and a short waist-cloth or langoti com- 
pletes his attire. His wrists will generally be found to bear 
an odd number of brand marks, and his locks are usually 

Bhils are mostly dark in complexion a*nd have squat noses, 
flat round faces and are active, hardy, wiry, quick of vision, of 
medium, sturdy physique and capable of much endurance. 
Some in Khandesh are tall and well built, with good features. 

The women possess most of the characteristics of the 
men and are to them what the Kaikadi or Bedar women are 
to their male folk, namely, capable and faithful assistants and 
helpmates in criminal enterprises. In features they much 
resemble the men, but among some tribes, as for instance 
Pavras and Tadvis, the young women are fairer than the men 
and distinctly good-looking. 

In the Deccan and Khandesh they wear sans and as a 
rule, bodices ; are not very particular about covering their heads, 
and as often as not go uncovered. Round their necks they 
wear tight bead or shell necklaces and in parts of Khandesh a 
profusion of heavy brass anklets extending in some cases from 
knee to ankle. 

The Gujerat Bhil woman's costume consists of a sdlla or 
sdri, an open-backed bodice and a petticoat, all of coarse 
country cloth. The sdlla is loosely thrown over the head and 
body, and the petticoat, instead of hanging down to the ankles, 
is tucked up, leaving the lower part of the leg uncovered. 
For ornaments they wear the bor, rakhdi and jhdbu ; the first 
over the forehead, the second on the top of the head and the 
third attached to the back hair. Their ears are ornamented 
with metal or wooden rings and chains, the latter hooked into 
the hair, and their noses with rings. Round the neck the 
majority wear strings of shells or of glass, or stone beads, while 
their legs and arms are profusely decked with large brass 


anklets or armlets often entirely covering the legs from knee 
to ankle and the arms. Their ornamentation is completed by 
extensive tattooing on arms and hands and some few marks on 
the face and chest. 

As a class Bhils are dirty in their appearance and ha hits 
but very clannish and will seldom give information against one 
another. In Khandesh they are mostly tattooed on the fore- 
arms and between the eyebrows. Their principal deity in 
Khandesh is the ' Vag Deo ' (tiger god) and in Gujerat ' Devi ' 
(goddess). The most binding oath to a Gujerat Bhil is that 
taken on the name of ' Bara Bij ' (twelve new moons of the 

Bhils believe generally in witchcraft and much of the violent 
crime amongst themselves is due to this belief. 

Of the Bhils found scattered about in small numbers over 
various districts, little need be said. They appear to have 
emigrated from their homes in the past in search of work and 
to have settled down to earn an honest livelihood. 

The Plain Bhils of Khandesh and the Deccan have a dia- 
lect of their own, known as ' Bhilori 
Dialect o a f n s d p S Ha bhasha,' the basis of which appears to 

be corrupt Hindustani and Marathi, 

with Gujerati terminations and variations more or less pro- 
nounced according to the tribe to which they belong. 

In respect to the Hill tribes each has its own peculiar dialect 
varying again with its locale. The Dhankas talk corrupt 

In Gujerat and Kathiawad, Bhils speak corrupt Gujerati 
containing some Marathi and other foreign words, with the 
accent peculiar to the part of the province they inhabit, and 
sometimes Marwadi. Their pronunciation is broad and they 
are fond of using the aspirate. 

Bhils have few slang expressions but they are able to con- 
vey a great deal of meaning by gesti- 

Slang used. i^- & ir, 11 * 5 ,- 7 ^ 

culation. In Khandesh a dacoity is 

referred to as ' vatpadi.' In the Panch Mahals a policeman 
is called a ' kagda ' or ' tarakdu,' a bow and arrow ' hario 

The Hill Bhils live mostly by the col!<-rlion and sale of 

Ostensible means of live- jungle produce, gum, honey, gi 

mlunvm flowi-r, felling trees, manu- 
facture of charcoal and cultivation of uig/i, a coarse grain 



grown in the hills. During harvest time many work as reapers 
and support themselves by field labour generally. The produce 
of the ' moha ' (m/wwra) forms an important item of Bhil 
domestic economy. The flowers when dried are cooked in 
various ways and eaten. A potent liquor is also distilled from 
them and large quantities are collected and sold to distillers 
throughout the country. A few among Pavras earn a living 
as carpenters and blacksmiths. 

Many of the Bhils of the plains are diligent cultivators, 
some own land, some are village watchmen, field labourers, 
railway gangmen, carpenters, blacksmiths and many enter 
Government service as policemen and forest guards. 

The Nasik and Ahmednagar Bhils are mostly agricultural 
labourers, village or private watchmen over standing crops. 

The Panch Mahals and Gujerat Bhils are cultivators, 
labourers, village watchmen, and some, though not so many as 
before, enlist in the police. They also ply carts for the convey- 
ance of timber, grain and other commodities, and collect and 
sell forest produce, manufacture charcoal, catechu, baskets, etc. 

In 1905 out of about 2,600 Bhils in Ahmedabad, roughly 
2,000 were to be found in and around Ahmedabad city alone, 
where the labour market attracted them during hard times. 
They live there quietly and peaceably working in mills and 
drawing hand-carts. Bhil women as a rule take part with 
their male relatives in earning a livelihood. 

As a tracker of game and shikari the Bhil is unsurpassed. 

In Khandesh and the Deccan, when on the war-path they 

will occasionally wear dark or klmki 

'"'ondendfTcaUon. m coats in order to create an impression 

that the gang is a body of policemen 

or forest guards. When committing serious crime they muffle 
their faces, sometimes smear them with ashes or earth, and 
women occasionally accompany outlaws in male disguise. When 
committing crime Bhils do not attempt to conceal their identity 
by the adoption of disguises. In Gujerat their only precaution 
against recognition is to tie up their faces. 

The Bhil is not preeminently a criminal in the sense the 
Kaikadi is. He goes into open out- 

Cnme to which addicted. , , , 

lawry on a large scale only as the result 

of bad years, want, the exactions of money-lenders or some 
other disturbing cause. W T hen the pinch of agricultural distress 
is felt, or any other provocation arises, Bhils readily go out in 


gangs and take to looting and widespread depredations For 
the rest, his activities are mostly confined to minor trim -s 
against property, an occasional murder the outcome of jealousy, 
revenge, or a belief in witchcraft. Civilizing influences have of 
recent years done much to redeem the Bhils from the preda- 
tory habits which characterised them in the past. Neverthe- 
less the criminal instinct remains sufficiently strong in tin- 
present day to need but little temptation to induce him to revert 
to the roving life of the freebooter and depredator. 

Among the various tribes, the Khotils and the Tadvis are 
the most criminal, and it is a noteworthy fact that during the 
last fifty years the- most dangerous Bhil outlaws have been 
Khotils. These are at once the most lawless and sporting of 
all the Bhil tribes and it is from their ranks that the most daring 
and reckless outlaws, who from time to time have preyed on 
the countryside and made their names a terror, have sprung. 
Notorious outlaws are often at large and keep the field at the 
head of gangs for years together, but apart from these, a large 
number of Bhils ' go out ' for petty offences and for some 
time give little or no trouble to the police till fired by some one 
more daring they readily join a criminal gang. 

Dacoity or highway robbery of parties returning from weekly 
markets is a favourite form of crime. Those living in the plains 
and the Dhankas of the hills, commit house-breaking and theft 
and are given to looting goods trains during times of scarcity. 

Tadvis often indulge in crop raiding and burglaries. Khan- 
desh lowland Bhils on the Taloda side are further credited with 
a disposition to enter into league for the commission of dacoity 
with Rohillas and Pathans who play the part of instigators and 

Speaking broadly, the Hill Bhil is less criminal than his 
brother of the plains. The commonest crime attributed to the 
Mavchis of Nawapur is the illicit distillation of liquor and the 
occasional murder of some old woman supposed to be a witch. 

With the exception of a few villages bordering on the 
Khandesh District, the Bhils of Nasik can hardly be considered 
criminal as a class, but those of Ahmednagar are addicted to 
dacoity, highway robbery, burglary and theft, occasionally 
breaking out into open outlawry. 

The Panch Mahals and Gujerat Bhils are not as a class 
criminal and take to serious crime only \\hen driven to it by 
privation. They however occasionally commit highway dacoity, 

BHILS. 45 

cattle lifting and burglary, and in the plains, crop stealing and 

petty thefts. 

Before embarking on the commission of crime, Bhils always 
obtain the necessary information as to 

Methods employed in com- , ri i , , 

mining crime, and distinguish- the resistance likely to be encountered, 
ing characteristics likely to the locality, surroundings of the house 

to be looted or burgled and the ap- 
proximate value of the booty to be secured. They are cautious 
in their return, endeavour to mislead pursuit by creating false 
scents, and guard against being tracked by splitting up and 
going in different directions, taking advantage of hard ground 
etc. while travelling. When gangs of Bhils are in open out- 
lawry and have become emboldened by success and the 
failure of the authorities to effect their capture, they are not so 
particular in respect to the adoption of measures to frustrate 
pursuit or foil trackers. The tracking of outlaw gangs is, there- 
fore, less difficult, as it is of course not easy for a large gang 
to travel unnoticed as it leaves tracks and traces of its pro- 
gress, often articles dropped by the way, as it goes. Police 
are apt to give up all efforts to follow and catch up Bhils if 
they cannot pick up the tracks within say a mile or so of the 
scene of crime. But it should be remembered that ordinary 
Bhil gangs will disperse, in order to mislead the police, im- 
mediately after the commission of an offence, but only to fore- 
gather again at some pre-arranged rendezvous. Therefore the 
police should always make more extensive casts around for 
footprints and traces of the gang. 

There are no special characteristics about the Bhil's modus 
operandi in committing crime. His method is to first terrorize 
and if resistance is shown, to overcome it by force. Dacoities 
on an extensive scale are usually the outcome of poverty due to 
famine, revenge, or some financial injustice, and are generally 
accompanied by great violence. Till recently the Bhils were 
greatly in the hands of money-lenders and raids on the most 
usurious of these were of frequent occurrence papers and 
deeds were destroyed, and the money-lender and his family rarely 
escaped very rough treatment, sometimes even losing their 
lives. The ' naik ' or headman usually takes an active part in the 
commission of crime. He generally manages to form friendship 
with some influential Gujars, Rajputs, Rohillas, or patils in the 
neighbouring villages. These men, not infrequently to pay off 
a grudge, and friendly liquor-vendors give him information about 
the houses in different villages that are worth looting and supply 
the gang with food and drink and in every way try to assist and 


shield it. Criminal gangs usually "camp on a hill within five or 
six miles of villages where they have local friends. They 
generally have their wives or mistresses with them to cook their 
meals, but when kept on the move or driven to a strange 
locality they are dependent on such local assistance as 
they can secure for their supplies. At such times they are very 
watchful and shift their ground at short intervals. Away from 
the protection of local friends the gang finds it difficult to keep 
its whereabouts secret. Piessed for food it is often marked down, 
surrounded and captured. Bhils, unless proclaimed outlaws, 
rarely show fight. When they do, their shooting is very inferior, 
and they generally throw away their arms and bolt rather than 
come to close quarters. When attacked they resist with much 
pluck up to a certain point, and when pursued, their activity, 
endurance and knowledge of the hills and jungle-paths makes 
it almost impossible to overtake them. 

A clue to their whereabouts is usually obtained through 
' informers ' of their own caste, or by watching the houses of 
their relatives whom they visit. A gang can often be traced by 
carefully watching the liquor shops in the neighbourhood of the 
locality in which it is suspected to be operating. The liquor for 
the daily consumption of the gang is conveyed to it either by 
those harbouring it or by one or two of their trusted servants, 
generally women. A ' farari ' Bhil should always be looked 
for at a wedding feast. Women, especially young women going 
to and coming from the jungles, are worth watching, as the love 
affairs of the Bhils are numerous, and the dashing young 
' farari ' is a persona grata among the Bhil women, who often 
leave their husbands and homes for his sake. They also act as 
scouts and informers to the gang and very expert they are at 
this work. 

Bhils have no prejudice against, admitting men of other 
castes to their gangs or joining others in the commission of 

Bhils on dacoity bent do not confine their attentions to a 
single house but will attack and plunder two or three houses in 
the same lane or street. While committing crime they often 
use Hindustani words, and address each other as ' fouzdar,' 
' jemadar/ etc. In committing burglary the Bhil gnu-rally 
effects entrance either by boring a hole near the door-frame 
(' bagli ' fashion) or in the wall of the house ('rumali' 
fashion). He escapes with any thing, no matter how 
trifling, on which he can lay hands. Boxes are usually carried 
off before being rifled. 

BHII.S. 47 

In Gujerat, Bhil dacoit gangs usually number between ten 
and twenty and, as a rule, are armed with bows and arrows, 
shields, swords, sticks and sometimes fire-arms. They exploit 
roads as a rule, and are not addicted to house dacoity. The gang 
prepares itself for action by partaking of liquor. One or two of 
the members are posted in trees as look-outs to warn the main 
body, which lies in ambush, of the approach of carts and 
travellers. At a given signal the gang rushes out of hiding 
and proceeds to first stone and afterwards attack at close 
quarters the quarry. Bullocks are unyoked, carts ransacked 
and individuals belaboured to make them disgorge their valu- 
ables. Any resistance is overcome by rough treatment. The 
carts and the persons of inmates and travellers having been 
thoroughly searched, the gang decamps, perhaps driving off 
the bullocks belonging to the unfortunate wayfarers. 

In lifting cattle out grazing in the jungles in charge of cattle- 
herds, usually children, the latter are seized and blindfolded, 
sometimes even tied hand and foot, while their animals are 
driven off. The time selected for this is usually shortly before 
noon or sunset when the cattle are more or less grouped 
together for watering purposes. 

The Gujerat Bhil is not an expert burglar ; house-breaking 
and thefts are, therefore, usually confined to isolated kutcha 
built houses which present no difficulty to break into and 
involve no great risks. 

In Khandesh and the Deccan on criminal expeditions, Bhils 

mostly carry bows and arrows which 

stock in trade instruments tney ma k e at home and are experts in 

and weapons used in commit- . J -,, , , i i 

ting crime. using. I hey also arm themselves with 

sticks, slings, swords (real or sham), 

spears, and fire-arms when obtainable. Ladders are not used. 
Heavy hatchets are carried for breaking through doors. 

In the Panch Mahals and the Rewa Kantha Agency every 
Bhil goes about with his bow and quiver of arrows, exhibit 
29 of the Bombay District Police Museum (vide Plate I). 
They are good shots, being trained to the use of the weapon 
from childhood. In drunken brawls they frequently use their 
bows and arrows with fatal effect on each other. When 
committing highway robbery and other serious crime in gangs 
they also arm themselves with shields, swords, sticks, stones 
and sometimes fire-arms. 

The Khandesh and Deccan Bhil's house-breaking imple- 
ments are, an iron rod sharpened at one end like a crowbar, or 


a large iron nail (kanthoda) about nine inches long and some- 
times fitted with a wooden handle. The latter is ostensibly kept 
for dislodging crabs etc. 

The Gujerat Bhil has no special instrument for house- 
breaking but relies on his ordinary agricultural implements. 
His Palanpur brother is said to use the khdtariyd^ exhibit 46 
of the Bombay District Police Museum (vide Plate IV) 
and to be a more finished burglar. 

Usually the ' naik ' or leader of the gang receives two shares 

of the spoil and the rest of the parti- 

and means of conceal- c ipators share alike in the division. 

ing or disposing of stolen pro- * -111 

perty. But occasionally there is no regular 

division of booty ; every man keeps 

what he gets. Property is usually buried or concealed at first 
and afterwards disposed of with some among their many 
'receivers' who are either Gujars, Rajputs, Thakurs, village 
officials, villagers or liquor-vendors. 

The Bhil when flush of money is very liberal and pays 
without stint for any help he receives. A rupee for a b ijri bread 
has often been given and there are instances on record where 
a silver kada (a wristlet) worth Rs. 15 changed hands for three 
bottles of country liquor, and a good necklace, part of loot, was 
given by a thirsty Bhil to a shoe-maker for information regard- 
ing the whereabouts of water. 

Bhils are not original or clever at hiding their stolen 
property; they conceal it as a rule in rubbish heaps or stacks, 
their roofs and generally where it is easy to find. In searching 
a Bhil hut, particular attention should be paid to fire-places, 
the floor beneath them, the ground under grinding-stones and 
receptacles for storing grain. Rafters and roofs should also be 
carefully searched. If there is a woman in the gang, she is 
sometimes given at once a few of the stolen ornaments to wear. 

Stolen cattle are diposed of at distant markets and some- 
times to relations, connections or friends, by whom the animal's 
appearance is sometimes changed by trimming horns, branding 
or other devices. 

A Bijapur Chhapparband. 

Chhappar bands. 

Chhapparbands are known also as Fakir coiners. In a 

report submitted to Government in the 

*or C SL naI C ' aSS year 1850 it is stated that among 

themselves Chhapparbands are known 

as ' Bhadoos ' and up-country as ' Khulsooryas/ i. e., false 
coiners. The community is divided into two classes, ' Bara- 
gunde ' and ' Chhqgunde.' The former pay twelve ' hoons ' 
(a gold coin worth about four rupees) and the latter six to the 
guardians of a bride before they can secure her hand. The 
two classes dine together but do not intermarry. 

In a report on Chhapparbands, submitted in 1891 to the 
Commissioner of the Hyderabad Assigned Districts, the 
Inspector General of Police, Hyderabad Assigned Districts, 
makes mention of a tribe called Rends or Beluchis found in 
the Muzuffarnagger District of the United Provinces who 
have the same characteristics as the Chhapparband Fakirs 
and who seem to follow much the same calling. He states he 
has not been able to connect the two tribes beyond ascertaining 
that the Chhapparbands from the south and the Rends from 
the north seem both to travel as far as Ajmere in pursuit of 
their trade of passing counterfeit coin. These Rends, like 
the Chhapparbands, affix ' Shah ' to their ordinary names and 
absent themselves from their homes for long periods. The 
above information is quoted merely to prevent the two tribes 
being confused and the members of the one mistaken for 
those of the other. 

Chhapparbands are Sheik Mahomedans and originally 
H . lbitat belonged to the Panjab, more espe- 

cially the country surrounding Delhi. 

Their present habitat and head-quarters are the Muddebihal 
and Bagevadi talukas of the Bijapur District of the Bombay 
Presidency. There are possibly a few isolated Chhapparbands 
residing here and there in other districts of the Bombay Presi- 
dency, Berars, Central Provinces and His Highness the 
Nizam's Territory. It is only the Bijapur Chhapparband how- 
ever who is the inveterate coiner and consequently the subject 
of these notes. 


The Chhapparband, like the Bhampta, travels* all over 
_ , . . . India. He has been encountered 

Sphere of activity and wan- . .-, , 

dcring proclivities. CVCn in Ceylon. 

The figures returned by the Bombay Presidency census of 
1901 give the obviously incorrect total 
of 7 females and no males in the 
Bombay Presidency. The explanation 
lies probably in the fact that all but the 7 honest females 
who were enumerated, returned themselves as Mahomedans. 

In a report by the District Superintendent of Police, Bijapur, 
in 1893, the population was shown as follows: 

Bagevadi taluka ... 1,626 

Muddebihal taluka ... 856 

Enquiries instituted by the Criminal Investigation Branch 
of the Bombay Presidency towards the end of the year 1902 
showed that there were then 734 adult males, 826 females and 
1,025 Chhapparband children, making a total of 2,585. 

The following is a list of villages in the Bagevadi and 
Muddebihal talukas of the Bijapur District in which Chhap- 
parbands reside : 

In Biigevddi taluka. 

Abbihal. Jaywadgi. 

Akuhvadi. Jiralbhanvi. 

Agasbal. Kanil. 

Ambalnoor. Kankal. 

Angadgeri. Karibantnal. 

Areshankar. Kowlgee. 

Baloti. Kirsal 

Basvantpur Hatti Kodganoor. 

Byalyal. Majre Jain a poor. 

Bidnal. Mannur. 

Byakod. Masuti. 

Chiraldini. Muddapur. 

Gani. Mukarlihal. 

Gonal. Nagur. 

Gudadinni. Nagvad. 

Halihal. Narsangi. 

Hanchinal. Onibhanvi. 

Hangargi. Kijnal. 

Hebbal. Sanknal. 

(Hunsbyal) Nidgundi. Shikalwadi. 

(Hunshyal) Ili|)j)ar^i. Salvailsji. 

Iwangi. I ''1.^' 


In Mnddebihdl taluka. 

A'lkoppar. Kasinkunti. 

Balabatti. Kopp. 

Balawat. Masooti. 

Budihal. Padiknoor. 

Gudadini. Rudagi. 

Gund-karjagi. Shiddapur. 

Handergal. Tarnal. 

Hullur. Wadwadgi. 

Kalagi. Yerzari. 

Chhapparbands, as a rule, travel in gangs, large numbers 
leaving their homes when the touring 

its, appearance, dr ^^ ^^ ^^ generally CQm . 

mences a little after and ends a little 

before, the Mohurrum festival. Only those males who by 
reason of age, infirmity or illness are incapable of undertaking 
long and arduous journeys remain .behind. The paying nature 
of the business may be gathered from the fact that during 
the season for these expeditions scarcely a male Chhappar- 
band used to be found at home. Now-a-days special efforts 
have been made to settle them and check their movements, 
with the result that they are unable to slip away unbeknown to 
the authorities in the way they used to. Chhapparbands, 
especially their females, are fairly clean in their dress and 
habits. The ordinary costume of the male consists of a 
pairan or shirt, a loosely-folded turban and a cthoti such 
as is usually worn by Hindus. The females wear much 
the same garments as do Hindu females of the district they 
live in. The choli or bodice is worn either in the Deccan 
or, in case of young girls, the up-country fashion. Ornaments, 
both Mahomedan and Hindu, are indiscriminately worn. 
Women other than widows invariably wear a silver ring in the 
left nostril and bear on the whole a good reputation. 

Beyond that the Chhapparband's features conform to the 
poor Mahomedan type, there, is nothing distinguishing about 
his physiognomy. As a rule he is slim and wiry and an 
excellent walker, and it is astonishing the number of miles the 
oldest member of a gang can and will travel to throw persons 
off their track. Though he is not above taking alms at the 
hands of a stranger, he will decline the hospitable offer of a 
roof of even a co-religionist, preferring the outskirts of the 
village where he and his party will camp by a well, river, tank 
or in a garden or some disused and secluded shrine. 


The Chhapparband drinks freely and openly in his caste. 
When on tour (fer'i) he keeps up the appearance of a holy man 
and few would suspect the harmless fakir to be a clever rogue, 
swindler and counterfeiter in disguise. Travelling long dis- 
tances on foot or by rail, as circumstances permit, and begging 
as he goes, he completely disarms suspicion. 

It may not be out of place here to mention how Chhappar- 
bands make provision for the maintenance of their wives and 
children when leaving home on their expeditions. Some return 
within the year, others who have the misfortune to be caught 
and convicted may not return for years. Having a very care- 
ful regard for all such exigencies, the head of the household, 
before he leaves his village, makes adequate provision for his 
family in one of the following ways 

(a) If he is well enough off, he leaves them with cash sufficient 
to last for several months, sometimes even for one or two years. 

() He consigns his family to the care of the village sdwkar 
or pdtil, who in return gets double the amount spent on them 
during his absence. 

(c] Amongst a party of six or eight there is usually one rich 
enough to provide, not only for his own family, but for those of 
others who are prepared to attach themselves to the party and 
make and utter counterfeit coins for his benefit during the 
expedition. By virtue of this bondage the poorer Chhappar- 
band works for the richer till such time as he liquidates his 
debt and then only is he allowed to ply to his own advantage. 

The return of Chhapparbands from an expedition is marked 
by festivities and dissipation, slaughtering of goats and offer- 
ings to the local pir and by the gift of presents to accom- 
modating village authorities. Each family, it is believed, pays 
a small annual subsidy to the village authorities. 

Chhapparbands are said to occasionally visit the shrine of 
Zinda Shah Madar situated on the river Bori near the village 
of Dudni in the Akalkot State. The mujaivar at this shrine, 
who is honoured with the title of Fakirs' Guru or preceptor, is 
held in reverence by Chhapparbands as a class. 

They speak a dialect of their own akin to Hindustani of the 
Dialect and peculiarities eastern part of India with certain 
i speerh. peculiarities, for instance, 

tu (thou) is corrupted into te / 
ti'ra (thy, thine) into torn .- 
nn'ra (my, mine) into mora. 



They are quick at picking up the language of the district 
in which they temporarily reside, and speak ordinary Hindu- 
stani and Kanarese. The latter is a convenient medium for 
intercommunication up-country, in the presence of strangers 
and of those by whom they do not wish to be understood. 

Like other wandering criminal classes, Chhapparbands 
have a jargon of their own. The fol- 
lowing are some of the slang expres- 

Slang used. 

sions they use : 


khaga or khagdA 
baitnara or baithnewalla . 

handiwal or hanthilawalla 

raynk or hera 
kham or pit 
ghotari or mandal 
pheri or ghoti 


numtah or kajwa 

sees or rang 








kham bhurlo 






jodi awati hai 

ooprelhogaya, tekolin, or 


khaprala anke heragaya ... 


> leader of the gang. 

utterer of false coins. 

a boy. 

a boy who usually accompanies a gang. 

a girl. 

a sepoy. 


a mould. 

a party on tour. 


a counterfeit rupee. 


the well-to-do Chhapparband who pro- 
vides for the families of poorer Chhap- 


a stranger. 



lot of gold. 

an official. 




a genuine rupee. 

commence counterfeiting. 

copper money. 



eluded the police. 

run away. 

our companions are coming. 


police suspect us. 



a sharp knife for milling. 


Slang. Meaning. 

niika deo ... conceal it. 

badhimkanilay . hide rupees in rectum. 

k( nsa be cholemut ... say nothing. 

Ix nah . .. gold, 

jinibole ... do not give out. 

donk ... house, 

niarbuddi ... proceed to rendezvous, 

renda ... road. 

pana ... signs and marks made on the road, 

nana ... village, 

navdi ... police chowki. 

chimti ... clay used for moulds, 

kulkuli ... toddy. 

chibda ya hai tumri tumri an official (police) has come, beware 
jaga hushar raho. everywhere. 

Chhapparbands leave information to their caste fellows be- 
hind of the road they have taken, by making at crossings a heap 
of mud or earth measuring about a foot long, six inches broad, 
and six inches high and drawing an arrow in front of it showing 
the direction taken. Three such heaps are made at intervals ol 
a hundred yards or so to provide against accident to any one 
of them. Or, heaps of earth are made on the edge of the road 
by dragging the foot sideways along the ground. The broad 
mark, culminating in a heap, thus made, points to the road 
along which the Chhapparbands may be looked for. Sometimes 
in lieu of these signs a line with a curl at one end is drawn in 
the dust on the side of the road followed, alternative routes 
being closed by a cross. The straight end of the line indi- 
cates the route taken. Or again, a few twigs may be placed 
under a stone on the side of a road, the broken stalks pointing 
the direction followed. Two lines, each curled at one end, 

drawn in the dust on a road thus 

indicate to members detached from a gang the neighbourhood 
in which they should cast about to find their comrades. 

Chhapparbands ostensibly live by begging ; some cul- 
tivate lands and a few are village 

Ostensible means of live- - i i rv- 

lihood. watchmen. In Bijapur one or two are 

to be found in the ranks of the subor- 
dinate Forest and Postal services. The contents of an ordin.m 
Chhapparband's house are certainly not consistent with the nil 
repeated story that the men depend on public charily while the 
women toil hard in the fields (;U most three nxmths'out of the 
twelve) and make mats and quilts. 


The Chhapparband will always be found dressed as a 
fakir with the characteristic tongs 
and JMi (bag for alms) and tishta 
(beggar's bowl) and he acts the part 
to perfection. When arrested, he exhibits no fear but protests 
that he is a poor Maddr'i fakir who chants for alms or catches 
and trains young bears. If two or more are arrested together 
they will usually give different accounts of themselves and 
their movements. The women, who never accompany their 
husbands, when questioned, have many and varied explana- 
tions to offer as to the absence of their bread-winners. 

Each member of a gang leaves his village in his every-day 
garb, but on reaching a rendezvous he transforms himself into 
a typical mendicant, rigge'd out in all the essentials of a fakir, 
catching the sawdl (the sing-song manner of beggars) per- 
fectly. He wears beads and professes to follow firs or saints, 
perhaps at Gulbarga, perhaps at Ajmere, or in the Himalayas, 
according to circumstances. When questioned he will always 
give a false name and address, but generally names which 
are somewhat similar to the real ones. The father's name 
often takes the place of his own, but the suffix 'Shah' is invari- 
ably adhered to. A Chhapparband seldom shaves his beard, 
which, scraggy and lank, combined with a puny voice and the 
whining patter of the mendicant of the East, enables him to 
join that large fraternity and thus pass unnoticed, till a slip in 
the sleight-of-hand, to which he always has recourse when 
uttering false coins, exposes him. A Chhapparband thus caught, 
a sharp look-out should be kept and quick search made so that 
the remainder of the gang do not make themselves scarce, 
for it is a noteworthy fact that Chhapparbands always work 
and travel in gangs. 

Nominal rolls and finger impressions of, as far as possible, 
all male members of this class have been and are being pre- 
pared and taken. This will admit of their being identified 
with greater facility than heretofore when found away from 
their homes. Frequent references are made from all parts of 
India to the District Superintendent of Police, Bijapur, regard- 
ing suspected Chhapparbands, the reference usually taking the 
form of a request to state whether a man giving a particular 
name resides in the Bijapur District. As such references do 
not admit of satisfactory replies, it should be noted that the 
quickest and best way of getting the information required is to 
send photographs (6 copies) of the suspected persons to the 


District Superintendent of Police, Bijapur, and finger slips to 
the F'inger Print Bureau, Poona. 

A Chhapparband rarely if ever adopts the disguise, speech 
or actions of a Hindu beggar. 

The Chhapparband is first and foremost a manufacturer 

and utterer of cast counterfeit coin, 

Criir.e to which addicted. , . J 11 *i 

both rupees and smaller silver coins. 

Through all the years that he has been known as a coiner, 
dating back to General Harvey's account of 1852, and perhaps 
even earlier, he has neither improved in his methods nor 
attempted systematically to take up any more paying form of 
crime. Despite this characteristic, it must not be supposed 
that the Chhapparband with his criminal instincts is above 
purloining small articles when the opportunity offers. That 
he occasionally does so there are instances on record to show. 
A casual inspection of the hut of a Chhapparband woman in the 
Bijapur District disclosed amongst other household effects no 
fewer than thirteen knives of different shapes and sizes, from an 
ordinary table knife to a Nepaulese chopper. There were 
brass pots, unmistakably Bengali, a pair of brand new shoes 
worn by people in the south of Mysore, and no less than 
two gunny bags full of wearing apparel, from the ra^s worn by a 
fakir of an inferior order, to the silk bodices worn by well-to-do 
Hindu women. 

They are also addicted to pony lifting and getting hold, 
under suspicious circumstances, of children, whom they bring 
up and eventually adopt as their own. If taxed however, 
about the latter, they will say they obtained the child in return 
for some pecuniary consideration. They also entice here and 
there destitute women to follow them and accompany them to 
their homes. There is again evidence on record of Chhappar- 
bands having taken to swindling by means of some of tin- 
better known ' confidence ' tricks. Their modus operandi in 
this direction is well described in the following extract from 
the Supplement to the Madras Police Gazette dated I2th 
January 1907 : 

" Two of the convicts related how that, accessory to their usual 
operations, they occasionally make a good haul in the large cities of 
Bengal and the other provinces to the north of Madras. Half a do/en 
of them dress rather expensively their disguise 2& fakirs being given 
up for the time being. Two bags identical in appearam e art- 
prepared. In one are placed a number of discs of lead, the diameter 
of a sovereign, and in the other a few seeds of black-grain or the like. 
Approaching a man who sells sovereigns, a couple of them open a 


bargain for a number equal to the discs in one of the bags. The 
sovereigns are counted and put into the bag containing the seeds. 
Just at the moment for payment a third man turns up and suggests 
consulting their master. The bag containing the sovereigns (and 
the seeds) is left with the dealer. Presently they return and propose 
a lower rate, whereupon the dealer closes the bargain. They demand 
return of the bag. The sovereigns are poured out, and if the seeds 
fall on the sovereigns unnoticed by the dealer, they conclude that he 
is a person who may be duped. A couple more of them turn up and 
profess to have brought an offer of better terms from their master 
and the bag is again refilled with the sovereigns. Another Chhappar- 
band, apparently unknown to the others, now begins to make a 
fresh bargain for the sovereigns. The men who opened the first 
bargain manage to substitute the bag of leaden discs for the bag of 
sovereigns and go away asking the dealer to keep it until they return 
with the final decision of their master. Then they make themselves 

"Another of their tricks is thus described. They pose as dealers 
in gold, selling a little below the market price. In one of these two 
bags (as before) they put counterfeit rupees ; the other is empty. 
Some twenty tolas of gold are also required for this swindle. The 
dealer, who is approached, is generally a receiver of stolen property. 
They meet in an out-of-the-way place and fix on a price correspond- 
ing to the number of counterfeits in the bag. The dealer counts 
out his rupees, which are put into the second bag, and they hand over 
to him the gold. One of the gang, who has been keeping in the 
background, turns up at the psychological moment and makes a fuss 
threatening exposure. In the excitement and movement which 
follow they change the bags, giving the dealer a bag of counterfeits 
which he thinks are his own rupees returned, and get back their gold." 

Chhapparbands when on their expeditions usually proceed 
in groups of from three to ten, though 

Methods employed in com- , , ' 

mitting crime, and distinguish- as many as thirty in a single gang have 
ing characteristics likely to been known. When leaving home they 

afford a clue. i i .,1 

are unaccompanied by their women. 

After waiting for the manifestation of some favourable 
omen, Chhapparbands take their departure surreptitiously, in 
ones and twos, striking across country, generally on foot but 
at times by rail, buying short-distance tickets in order to avoid 
suspicion. They return in the same way, alighting at different- 
places two or three stations away from the one nearest their 

One of them, usually an old and experienced hand, is 
appointed leader and is called ' khagda.' His orders are impli- 
citly obeyed. He receives a larger share of the earnings 
than any of the others. There is also a boy attached to every 
gang and he is called ' handiwal.' It is his duty to do odd 


jobs, such as bringing water, tending any animals belonging to 
the gang, assisting in cooking and serving, as a look-out, spy 
and so on. Chhapparbands carry their goods and chattels 
themselves but occasionally pick up or lift ponies and use them 
as pack animals, or for riding. The gang generally encamps 
on high ground commanding a good view all round and close 
to water, such as the bun dot a tank or the bank of a river. 
A halting place in the proximity of water is preferred as it 
affords a ready means for effectually getting rid of false rupees, 
moulds etc. in case the camp is raided. The ' khagda ' and the 
boy do not pass counterfeits. This is the work of the others 
who are called ' bhondars.' The ' khagda ' does the cooking, 
always remains at the halting place and when on the march 
carries the earnings of the gang, also the moulds, clay, and the 
metal (never the false rupees). When the gang moves on, 
the ' khagda ' generally rides a pony and is accompanied by 
the boy. The ' bhondars ' perform the journey by different 
routes, do business in villages on the road, and foregather at 
the new halting place, agreed upon beforehand, in due course. 
When the leader reaches the new halting ground, his first care 
is to bury the cash, usually close by, and to either bury the 
moulds too or hide them in or near grass, bushes, hollow trees 
or the like, some little distance away. But the encampments 
of suspected Chhapparbands require careful searching too for 
incriminating articles such as moulds and counterfeits have 
been found buried there, even under their bedding. When the 
' bhondars ' arrive they also conceal the false coin in a similar 
manner. ' Bhondars,' when itinerating as described above, put 
up in old tombs, dharamsdlds frequented by fakirs, or fakirs 
makfins, etc., on the outskirts of villages. 

Notwithstanding their numbers and the freedom with 
which they move about the country plying their trade in their 
characteristic manner, they have an excellent system of their 
own by means of which they scatter in small groups and 
regularly exploit the country without overlapping or laying 
themselves open to the suspicion of being wandering crimi- 
nals associated with one another. 

Once in disguise and beyond the sphere of recognition, the 
Chhapparband plies his calling busily and boldly. He manu- 
factures his counterfeits as he moves along, his modus 
operandi being very simple and inexpensive, the materials 
obtainable almost everywhere. Gopichandan and balaph <>r 
any other sticky clay finely powdered and sifted, is mixed with 


a little water and reduced to the required consistency. The 
composition is then divided into two discs, a good rupee is 
oiled a little and placed between them, and the clay is pressed 
and moulded round the coin to the depth of about a quarter of 
an inch. The mould, which is about the size of a watch, is 
pressed and manipulated for some time, and a mark is made 
across the edge of it to ensure the two halves being correctly 
brought together afterwards. It is then severed longitudinally 
so as to enable the good rupee to be removed, a small channel 
to receive the molten metal is cut, and the mould, but for hard- 
ening and finishing touches, is complete. It is now dried in 
ashes and then wrapped in several layers of rag which are then 
set fire to and thus the clay is baked till hard and ready for use. 

The mould or moulds when about to be used are set on their 
.edges in a row in wet cow-dung, the channels upwards, in a 
position to receive the molten metal which is then poured in. 

The manufacture of counterfeits is carried out during the 
day in some out-of-the-way place and with much secrecy of 
course, a strict watch being kept against detection. As 
Chhapparbands are not usually suspicious of natives who are 
obviously going to bathe or worship, the best way to catch 
them red-handed is for detectives to get themselves up 

The metal used is a mixture of copper or kdsa and tin ; a 
spoon or ladle suffices for melting it, and after it is poured into 
the mould, the counterfeit, but for some finishing touches in 
respect to trimming, milling and polishing, is ready. The coin 
at its best is but a crude specimen of rough workmanship and 
finish, defective in every respect and not calculated to deceive 
any but simple village folk. The milling in the cast shows but 
faintly and is improved upon by a file or a knife. The counter- 
feits are sometimes blackened to make them appear old. One 
mould is capable of being used over and over again according 
to the care with which it is made and the consistency and 
fineness of the clay used. An ordinary mould is capable of turn- 
ing out ten to twenty rupees ; a good one of turning out fifty or 
even more, and some last during the whole of a tour. Having 
thus manufactured a few spurious coins wanting in finish, ring, 
colour, hardness and weight, the Chhapparband generally 
selects as his victim some woman who, induced by a promise 
of a small commission, gives a rupee in exchange' for coppers. 
Ere the bargain is concluded the pseudo fakir } with \\rll 
simulated surprise, discovers that the rupee given him is not 


current in his country. He takes his coppers back and returns, 
substituting by sleight-of-hand, a counterfeit for the genuine 
coin he received. 

Other methods for passing counterfeits areas follow: 
They visit markets with some articles for sale. After a bargain 
is struck and money has passed, they will cancel the agree- 
ment, return the money, substituting some of their spurious 
coins by sleight-of-hand. Or, they enter shops and make 
purchases displaying genuine rupees at first, substituting false 
ones at the time of payment. They also exchange counter- 
feits for genuine coins of other than British currencies and, 
where the circumstances appear favourable, even tender 
counterfeits in payment for small purchases or to obtain 

They frequent fairs and all large gatherings to pursue their* 
favourite avocation. A gang has been known to earn nearly two 
thousand rupees in the course of one tour. 

When the Chhapparband finds himself in danger of being 
exposed, he suspends business, destroys all the ready-made 
moulds and other indications of his real avocation, and makes 
himself scarce. 

Some of the following articles constitute his stock-in-trade : 

a pair of scissors, a broad-bladed knife, 

Stock-in-trade instruments tongs, pincers, a spoon or ladle, 

and weapons used in commit- , r . r . r ,. 

ting crime. earthen bowl or pot, a hie, some needles 

concealed perhaps in a small bamboo 

tube, some linseed oil, gum, antimony, some of the metal and 
earth or powder used for counterfeiting, a small tin containing 
black powder, a small grinding-stone, a wooden blow pipe, 
right angle tube, touchstone, some mercury, lead, pewter, 
sulphur, powdered charcoal, a piece of soft skin, some fine dust 
or salt for polishing, a few ' Hali Sicca ' or ' Rajshahi' coins 
for duping people, and, if taken by surprise or unawares, Un- 
characteristic mould already described. 

Chhapparbands have been known to carry the clay re- 
quisite for the making of the moulds, fashioned in the shape 
of a miniature mahdl or a durgah, exhibit 23 in the Bombay 
District Police Museum, vide Plate II and sometimes 
in the form of beads worn round the neck. If the clay for 
their moulds happens to be in a powdered form, they generally 
try to explain it away by describing it as earth from sonic 
sacred shrine. On the move, coining implements and the 


materials for the manufacture of counterfeits are usually carried 
in a leather bag. 

When a gang of Chhapparbands is arrested, all should be 
handcuffed at once before any search 

Ways and means of conceal- j s mac le, and each man should be 

ing or disposing of incnminat- , . , r , 

ing articles. made to sit apart. It such precau- 

tions are not taken, one of the gang 

will start a sham quarrel, create a disturbance and in the 
confusion moulds and counterfeits are thrown away or hidden. 
While travelling, the Chhapparband very cleverly conceals his 
cash and counterfeits in his langoti. The front flap of this 
garment, the part that hangs down, is cunningly provided with 
a pocket. When a man is searched, he releases his langoti 
from the back and allows it to hang down in front, and the 
pocket is thus liable to escape notice. In searching a 
Chhapparband therefore, his langoti should be taken off alto- 
gether and the article submitted to a careful and thorough 
examination. He has a still more ingenious way of secreting 
a surprisingly large number of coins. 

An instructive case of this nature lately came to light 
when a Chhapparband was arrested on suspicion at Risod in 
the Bassim District and on his person being examined by the 
Civil Surgeon no less than seven rupees were found concealed 
in a cavity in his rectum. The Civil Surgeon was of opinion 
that it must have taken some considerable time to form such 
a cavity. Medical examination of the persons of Chhappar- 
bands is therefore advisable after police search is over. Nor 
should the examination of the mouth be overlooked, as 
instances in which Chhapparbands have concealed coins 
in their mouths are not unknown. If taken by surprise the 
Chhapparband will also swallow any counterfeits he may have 
on his person. In suspicious cases therefore a purgative 
should be administered and precautions taken to prevent the 
culprit from removing from his faeces coins passed and replac- 
ing them in his rectum, a trick they are apt to attempt. 

As soon as possible the proceeds of their handiwork is 
converted into gold coins and lately a case came to light in 
Hoshangabad where as many as sixteen gold nwhnrs were 
discovered secreted in the rectum, in the manner above 

Chhapparbands make free use of the post office to send 
the proceeds of their business to their homes, and usually 


select places where they have not been operating from which 
to despatch their ill-gotten gains. The fulfils of the villages 
inhabited by these ("hhapparbaiuls befriend and assist them 
by misleading the police and in other ways. There is an 
instance on record of a Chhapparband remitting all his gains 
to his family through a /></7/7\v wife. 

Another method of disposing of their earnings is to send 
these in charge of some selected members of the gang to 
some suitable place where they are converted into gold and 
taken home by one or two trusted individuals. The unex- 
pected return home out of season of Chhapparbands is a sure 
indication of the arrival of a part of the spoil of some gang. 

Kaikadis of the Southern Maratha Country. 


In the Deccan, a sub-division of the Kaikadi class, the 
profession followed or its criminal 

Name of criminal class tendencies, are indicated by the addi- 
tion of a prefix. Thus we have : 

(1) Chor Kaikadis, also known as Dontle" Dontalmare" 
and, by reason of some of the class being wanderers, Feriste. 

(2) Gaon Kaikadis, also known as Gram, Bootee and 
Topjia Kaikadis. Some belonging to this sub-division, by 
reason of being musicians, are called Vajantri, Bajantri, or 
Sanadi Kaikadis and in some parts style themselves Grahast 
(gentlemen) Kaikadis, because they are settled. 

(3) Kuchadi Kaikadis or Kunchiwale, who make brushes 
for weavers. 

(4) Makadvale Kaikadis, who train monkeys and are akin 
to No. (3) above. 

(5) Kooth Kaikadis, apparently an offshoot of No. (4), as 
' kooth ' means monkey. These are also known as Lalbazar- 
vale or Gansur. 

(6) Telingana Kaikadis (wandering Korchas, Korvas and 
Pamlors from the Carnatic and the Madras Presidency, are 
known in the Deccan as Telingana or Kamati Kaikadis). 

In the Carnatic Districts of this Presidency the Korwas 
or Korchas are divided into the following main sub-divisions : 

(1) Korwas, known also as Kail (thief) Korwas, 

(2) Kaddi or Agadi Korwas (who live in grass or reed 


(3) Kunchi Korwas (who make weaver's brushes), 

(4) Korchas, 

(5) Pamlors, 

(6) Bajantri, Sanadi or Oor Korwas, 
and are the Deccan Kaikadis' prototype. 

Kach sub-division is again divided into four clans or goths, 
namely : 

(i) Sathpadi, 


(2) Melpadi, 

(3) Kavadi, 

(4) Mendragutti. 

In the Bombay Presidency, Kaikadis (in which class for 
the purpose of this note are included 
the Korwas, Pamlors and Korchas 

of the Carnatic) are to be found more or less in all the 
Districts and States of the Deccan and the Southern Maratha 
Country. They are numerous too in parts of His Highness 
the Nizam's Territory, of Madras, Mysore, the Berars and 
Central Provinces. 

So far as this Presidency is concerned, the Districts and 
States mentioned above embrace the 

Sphere of activity and wan- fi^ Q f operations of this highly 
denng proclivities. . . r . . , J 

criminal class. As a rule the area in 

which a Kaikadi gang operates, extends to about thirty miles 
radius from its encampment, but with the prospect of a good 
haul a gang will travel any distance and even by rail, till not 
unfrequently a hundred miles or more separates the scene of 
a dacoity from the encampment of the gang. 

Kaikadis will seldom attack a village near the one in the 
limits of which they are encamped. If during their stay 
they mark down a promising house, in or near the village 
they are encamped at, they will remove some thirty or forty 
miles off, and after the lapse of a month or so, raid the house. 

They are restless to a degree, and gangs will wander 
about over a very extensive area. For instance, Kaikadis 
who are known to have lived and committed crime in the 
Poona District have been arrested and convicted in Buldhana 
and Akola of the Central Provinces. Similarly, Kaikadis 
from Sholapur have been arrested in the Bellary District 
and vice versa. Gangs do not, however, wander aimlessly. 
Their peregrinations are, generally, determined and guided 
by the information they receive from their informers and 
accomplices, of whom there are many over the countryside, 
and the prospects of crime. 

Gaon Kaikadis or Oor Korwas are settled in villages and 
do "not wander. 

Similarly, many of the Chor Kaikadis and Kail Korwas 
have fixed abodes. For the rest, all are wanderers. 


The following table gives the strength and distribution 

in the Bombay Presi- 

Population according to last 

census, and distribution. 

of this tribe 

denCV ' - 






Ahmednagar ... 



88 3 





6 95 



















5 J 7 








Native States in Central 

































4,5 6 5 































Native States in South- 

ern Division 



8 9 6 







Total . . . 




It is doubtful whether, in respect to a community living 
the roving and criminal life of Kaikadis, census figures can 
be regarded as more than approximately correct. However, 
for the purpose of illustrating the relative distribution of this 
tribe among the various districts, the table may prove of some 

Mostly, Kaikadis are a nomadic gipsy tribe. With the 
exception of a relatively very small 
number who have taken to agriculture, 
and those who are settled in villages leading an honest life 
either as musicians, mat weavers, basket and brush makers 
and the like and some of the settled though criminal Chor 
Kaikadis or Kail Korwas, Kaikadis travel over the country 

B 5*4 5 

Habits, appearance, dress, etc. 


in more or less large gangs accompanied by their women 
and children, cows, ponies, bullocks, dogs, donkeys and all 
the paraphernalia of a wandering gang and are all addicted 
to crime. 

In the Bombay Presidency gangs are to be found roving 
throughout the Deccan and Carnatic districts. Their habita- 
tions are temporarily constructed huts or pals, which with 
their other goods and chattels they carry from place to place 
on donkeys. They usually encamp some little distance from 
villages in the vicinity of water. Their encampments gene- 
rally command a good view of the country immediately 
round them and are full of pariah dogs, fowls, and donkeys. 

In some districts they are more toublesome than in others ; 
for instance in Dharwar, Belgaum, Sholapur and Bijapur they 
are a source of great anxiety to the police. 

Ahmednagar, Khandesh, Satara and the Konkan are 
comparatively but little troubled by them. But in parts of 
the Konkan Kaikadis have their regularly constituted 
' informers ' and occasionally commit raids below ghats. 

For purposes of self protection and speedy communication 
with one another, of approaching danger, Chor Kaikadis and 
Kail Korwas build their huts in the particular quarter of the 
village they occupy, very cunningly. They are so built 
with reference to each other as to facilitate prompt inter- 
communication between the occupants of each. 

The Kaikadi's features have nothing sufficiently distinctive 
to be noteworthy. An experienced police officer soon 
learns to identify him. In build he is of medium height to 
tall, sturdy, well developed, and active to a degree ; fleet of 
foot, quick of vision and hearing and possessed of great 
powers of endurance. Both sexes are dark, dirty, and 
untidy in appearance and habits. They eat every kind <f 
flesh except that of the cow, bullock or buffalo ; both sexes 
are extremely fond of liquor and toddy and all are very 

In the Deccan, the men dress in a dhotar, loin-cloth or 
short trousers reaching to the knee, a bdrdbandi or shirt, 
a shoulder-cloth, Maratha turban or runu'il and occasionally 
carry a red has-ci (a kind of haversack). The women \\var 
a bodice and a coarse s<iri which is not drawn back and up 
between the legs. They are profusely tattooed. 


In the Carnatic, Kaddi Korwas and Kunchi Korvvas 
usually wear langotis with a girdle or kacha tied round the 
waist, a nimal or head-scarf and a dhoti or kambli thrown 
over the shoulders. Korchas wear chaddis short drawers) 
or knee drawers (cholnas], rarely a dhotar, an angi or shirt, 
r u ma I or head-scarf and a hachda (a sheet of coarse cloth) 
or kainbli thrown over the upper part of the body. A dhotar 
is generally tied round the waist if a langoti is worn. The 
Pamlors wear a dhotar, angi, rumdl, shoulder-cloth, and 
almost invariably carry a bag or jholi (a species of small 
haversack) hanging from the left shoulder. Kail Korwas 
and Bajantri Korwas, both men and women, dress much like 
the ordinary villagers and are the best clad among Kaikadis 
in the Carnatic. Kaddi Korwa and Kunchi Korwa women 
dress much like those of the depressed classes and are gene- 
rally unkempt and dirty. Korcha women wear the sari 
in a peculiar fashion, the inner end being drawn up from left 
to right and round the shoulders to cover the breasts. Unlike 
other Kaikadi women they do not wear the bodice. They 
deck themselves with brass (not glass) bangles, and beads 
round the neck in profusion. Pamlor women wear both 
bodice and sari, the latter with this peculiarity that the 
front pleats are turned first outward at the waist and then 
fastened off inwards under the first fold of the sari. 

As already remarked, excepting Oor or Bajantri Korwas 
and many of the Kail Korwas who are settled in villages, all 
are wanderers leading a gipsy life. The following are some 
of the distinctive features of their encampments. 

Kail Korwas generally encamp under trees near a river 
or ndllah, are not accompanied by their women and children 
and decamp after the commission of crime. Occasionally 
they will be accompanied by one or two young women who 
cook for the gang. Such gangs are usually difficult to locate. 

Kaddi Korwas live in huts made of reeds or grass, are 
accompanied by women and children, asses, goats, dogs, etc. 
Their gonis or pack-saddles are invariably lined outside with 


Kunchi Korwas live in huts similar to those of the Kaddi 
Korwas and are accompanied by women and children, cows, 
bullocks, asses, dogs, monkeys, and pigs. They play the pnngi 
(blow-gourd), exhibit 44 of the Bombay District Police Museum, 
T'/'r/f Plate I, dance with bells on their ankles* and make their 
monkeys perform. Women walk about the town fortune-telling. 


Korchas live in mat huts, are accompanied by their wonu-n 
and children, pack-bullocks, donkeys, cows, goats, dogs, etc. 
They keep cattle in considerable numbers. 

Pamlors live in pals made of kambli (country blanket) 
with a coarse cloth cover ; are accompanied by their women 
and children, ponies, bullocks, pack-asses, cows, dogs, etc. 
Mat screens are generally erected across the open ends of 
the pals. 

All except Kunchi Korwas, encamp at a distance from 

With the exception of Kail Korwas and Pamlors, between 
whom intermarriage is allowed, members of the different sub- 
divisions interdine but do not intermarry. 

Kaikadi and Korwa women are as hardy as the men and 
are expert in spying, warning the men of the approach of 
danger, obtaining information by house-to-house visitation 
under the pretext of selling baskets, etc., hiding and disposing 
of property, misleading and hampering the police when 
occasion requires, conveying food for the males and informa- 
tion regarding the movements of the police and generally 
assisting their men in crime and evading justice. They are 
taken into confidence when criminal expeditions are embarked 
on and look out for the return of the men, intelligently antici- 
pating their requirements. 

They are immoral, more particularly in their community. 
Often one who is young and attractive is told off to do 
spokesman for the gang and even to go further, if need be, 
to get round some impressionable or troublesome police or 
village officer. In playing the part, many a Kaikadi woman 
is an adept. 

In the Deccan the headman of a gang is styled ' naik.' 
He is selected by lot on his merits as a criminal and pro- 
mising leader, and his word is law. In the Sholapur District 
women have occasionally risen to influential and responsible 
position in the caste, and the wives of ' naiks ' often carry on 
the duties of their husbands if the latter for reasons of State 
cannot appear in public. 

In the Carnatic, the equivalent of the ' naik ' is, among 
Kail Korwas, the ' rangaiet ' ; among Pamlors, the ' pulakunja ' ; 
among Korchas, the ' bermunsa ' ; and among Kaddi Korwa 
women, the ' pulakulsi.' 


The ' rangaiet ' of the Kail Korwas and the ' pulakunja ' of 
the Pamlors are selected on their performances as expert rob- 
bers, their capabilities as ready spokesmen and leaders. They 
are married to the kangatti, house-breaking implement, exhibit 
53 of the Bombay District Police Museum, vide Plate IV, 
and a knife, with the usual ceremonies, and thereafter they are 
privileged to receive 20 per cent, of all loot besides the 
share to which they may be entitled by reason of participating 
in the crime. 

Kaikadis of this Presidency can, as a rule, speak rude 

Marathi or Kanarese, sometimes both. 

Dialect and peculiarities i n tne Deccan and among themselves 

of speech. , . <= _ 

they speak corrupt 1 elegu or Arvi ; 

in the Carnatic, corrupt Arvi, each with certain peculiarities 
impossible to describe. Pamlors converse with one another 
in corrupt Telegu. 

They have a slang of their own and a system of secret 
signs is known to be used, but details 
as to all the latter are wanting and 

their slang is believed to vary with the tracts occupied 

by them. 

In the Southern Marutha Country the following slang 
expressions are used : 

By Kail Korwas. 
Slang. Meaning. 

koyka . . . constable. 

wanchu . . . came. 

pansa kollu ... implement for house-breaking. 

bet wan i ... axe. 

tenwolla . . . chief constable 

rangaiet or pulakunja ... naik or leader of gang. 

sulla . . . bribery. 

kelmul ... rupees. 

yalli silver. 

sonimu . . . gold. 

kunjappa ... sling. 

shidramappa ... stick. 

kollulleppa ... stone. 

yai yai . . pelt with stones. 

tigadu . . . stolen property. 

yelagu, pingali ... torch. 

nondabacka ... a hole made near the door-frame 

(' bagli ' fashion), 

mankalu ... a hole made in the wall ('rumali* 




mullawadu hullanki 

shilakatti or vakhpedu 









men gad u 







unsu, kottu 


pingali, yelagu 



koyka or nai 

kangath, sillakal, or mull- 

koyka wanchu 
pakka phohu 

By Pamlors. 

... constable. 
... a hole near the door-frame (' ba;_jli ' 

... house-breaking implement. 


... a hole in the wall (' rumali ' fashion) . 
. .. stolen property. 
... rupee. 
... silver. 
... gold. 

... receiver or villager. 
. . . house. 
... chief constable. 
... higher authorities. 
. .. run, decamp. 
. . . they have come. 
... naik or leader. 
. . . walikar. 
... bribery. 
... strike. 

. . . dacoity, robbery. 
... torch. 
... liquor-vendor. 
... toddy-seller. 

By Deccan Kai kadis. 

... sepoy, policeman. 
. .. chief constable. 

implement of house-breaking. 


police have come. 

an expedition has started. 

run or decamp. 

they have come. 

The following are some of the signs used by Kail Korwas 
and Pamlors of the Carnatic : 

A guttural sound with the mouth closed, somewhat resem- 
bling the cry of a ' night jar,' is a signal to indicate 'the 
police are coming.' 

Applying the palm of the hand to the mouth, a squawking 
noise between the cry of an owl and a jackal is emitted and 
is the signal to ' disperse ' or ' run away.' 

Kissing the palm of the hand loudly, a squeaking noise 
i> made like the cry of a mungoosc when grasped by the neck. 
This is a signal to those lagging behind to come up. 


When hiding in ambush on the look-out for a lucrative 
victim among passers-by on a road, to arrest the attention 
of an individual and cause him to look round and about with 
a view to taking stock of the ornaments on his person and 
deciding whether he is worth looting, the hand is put to the 
mouth and a sound resembling the cry of an infant is 

To call a man who is at a great distance, the cry of a 
' bhaloo ' (solitary jackal) is imitated. 

To collect the members of a gang who have dispersed on 
approach of danger, the cry of a fox or an owl is imitated. 
(This is in use among Deccan Kaikadis too who also whistle 
on such occasions.) 

To give the danger signal to a burglar who is inside the 
house, his confederates outside imitate the mewing of a cat 
or the bleating of a goat. 

To indicate the direction taken by a gang, to others who 
may follow after and come across the deserted encampment, 
a spray from the bough of a tree is broken off and is 
laid on the ground near the cooking stones, with the broken 
end pointing in the direction taken, a foot-print being im- 
pressed at right angles to the spray. 

Where two or more roads meet, a sign thus 

is made at the crossing, the free end of the line indicating the 
direction taken ; or a line is drawn on soft earth with the 
whole side of the foot and ended off with a foot-print pointing 
to the direction taken. Again, a fresh-cut twig or a leaf with 
a stone placed over it is left in a prominent place, the broken 
end or stem pointing to the route taken by the gang. 

When off roads and striking across fields, forests or hills, 
leaves of a tree are strewn at short intervals to notify the 
track of the gang to friends following. 

When so situated that talking or making any special 
sound is undesirable, scratching the forehead with the 
fingers is the sign to a confederate to make himself scarce. 

In similar circumstances when it is desired to instruct a 
confederate to proceed in a certain direction, that direction 
is indicated by the elbow, the hand being used to scratch 
the head. 

/ * 


These are, mat weaving, basket and brush making and 
occasionally among the Deccan Kai- 

Ostensibie means of live- kadis selling, retouching, and repairing 

grinding-stones. Their baskets are 

very coarse and in one case in which a number of known crimi- 
nals of this tribe in the Deccan professed to be basket makers, 
it was proved by experiment that three skilled able-bodied men 
working continuously for four hours, were able to produce but 
two baskets worth one and a quarter annas. Kaikadis in the 
Deccan have here and there enlisted in the police and, except 
that they are dirty and slovenly, have given satisfaction. 

In the Deccan some make money by prostituting their 
females and some do earth-work ; others are musicians, while 
some train snakes and monkeys for exhibition and snare and 
trap animals. A very few are honest cultivators, while some 
occasionally take up land but work it by hired labour or rent 
it out and there is one instance reported of a Kaikadi scnvk tu- 
rn Sholapur but he is not above suspicion. In parts of India 
outside the Bombay Presidency, it is understood some are 

In the Carnatic, some Kail Korwas are cultivators, others 
basket and mat makers. Kaddi Korwas go in for mat-making 
and their women beg from door to door in villages. Kunchi 
Korwas play the pungi t beg, exhibit performing monkeys, 
snare game, make ropes, small baskets as toys for children, 
net bags (skinkas) which are suspended from the roof and 
are used by natives for holding pots containing oil, milk etc. 
and weaver's brushes. Their women earn money too by 

Korchas weave mats, make ropes and shinkas, deal in 
cattle and are grain carriers on a small scale between the 
inland and coast towns. Pamlors play the pmigi, train snakes 
and beg. Vajantri Korwas are settled, cultivate lands, are 
village musicians, make baskets of palm leaves, ropes, shinkas, 
and brooms. 

In the Deccan, Kaikadis often try to pass off as Waddars 

and to this end carry spades, their 

Disguises adopted and means WO men discard t he choli (bodice) and 

of identification. -11 / r 

the men occasionally wear cnolnas 

(short loose knickerbockers). When moving about singly or 
in twos and threes they will adopt the role of ' ghungdi 


tunnewalle ' (repairers of blankets), Marathas, Gosavins or 

Kail Korwas and Pamlors by way of disguise, dress 
themselves up and adopt the role of Lingayats and Jangams 
(Lingayat priests), fortune tellers, Dassayyas with conch 
shell and bell, Waid or Shastri golls (medicine men) and 
musicians playing the sanddi (flageolet). So disguised, they 
gain admission to houses, temples etc., and pick up informa- 
tion They also describe themselves sometimes as shepherds. 
The criminal Kaikadi will also pose as belonging to the 
harmless kind such as Kunchi or Bajantri Korwas. In the 
Deccan, Kaikadis often move about singly or in pairs as 
Banias and in the Carnatic as well-to-do Marathas, on the 
look-out for a match for a son or a daughter. 

Pamlors and Kail Korwas occasionally open zmanigdr's 
(petty hardware) shop in some village or town and pass 
themselves off as manigdrs in order to prospect the village. 
Kail Korwas dress up as wealthy sdwkdrs and visit a town 
or village putting up in the houses of concubines in order to 
pick up information. Most Kaikadis have many aliases. 

A criminal gang is to be marked by its general air of 
prosperity, the frequent absence of the able-bodied men and 
the life of ease and indolence led. 

When, as is often the case, a gang is found to consist 
mostly of women and children and feeble old men, it is a pretty 
sure indication that the able-bodied males are absent on some 
criminal expedition, are evading arrest, or are hiding not far 
off in the vicinity of their camp to keep out of the way and 
give the encampment an air of innocence. The same applies 
in the case of the settled Kaikadis of the criminal type. 

If the women and children of such gangs are shadowed, 
the whereabouts of the absentee males may be traced, because 
the latter are dependent on the former for their food. 

Questioned, the women will usually explain that their hus- 
bands, sons, brothers etc., are dead. 

First and foremost Deccan Kaikadis, Pamlors and Kail 
Korwas of the Carnatic are daring and 

Crime to which addicted. 1,1 j TM j j v 

relentless dacoits. I hey regard dacoity 

as a hereditary profession. They also commit burglaries and 
occasionally highway robberies. They are further addicted 
to passing off brass mohurs and beads for gold ones, and to 


cheating by the ' confidence ' trick, that is, decoying ' receivers' 
to a lonely spot under the pretext of offering stolen property 
for sale and there relieving them of their cash. 

Kaikadi gangs pilfer and rob the neighbouring crops and 
lift sheep, goats and fowls which they kill and eat at ontv as 
a rule, and all the while they carry on some innocent occupa- 
tion as an ostensible means of livelihood. 

Kaddi Korwas chiefly pilfer agricultural produce, lift sheep, 
open grain-pits, carry off grain and commit highway robbery and 
dacoity. Their women beg, and while so employed, are experts 
in breaking open and picking locks and entering houses by 
day with a view to commit theft. They are incorrigible thieves. 

Kunchi Korwas are the least criminal of all wand ering 
Kaikadis and do not commit serious offences. 

Korchas are expert highway-men, and cattle, sheep and goat 
lifters. They rarely join Pamlors or Kail Korwas in the 
commission of house dacoity and burglary. Their special form 
of crime is dacoity and robbery on high-roads. 

Oor Korwas or Bajantri Korwas are reported to be the 
least criminal of all Kaikadis. They are settled, and as a class 
are law-abiding like the ordinary cultivators. 

Kaikadis have been known occasionally to kidnap minors 
whom they part with for a consideration to persons requiring 

House Dacoity. 

Having acquired, perhaps through women who are em- 
ployed to collect information and 

Methods employed in com- * . i -i i- i , i 

mitting c.ime, and distinguish- prospect buildings under the pretext 
ing characteristics likely to o f selling baskets and retouching 

afford a clue. j , i 

grinding stones, or been given pro- 
mising information by an outsider whom they can trust, 
Kaikadis, Pamlors and Kail Korwas will often travel pheno- 
menal distances in the pursuit of crime. If information is given 
by an outsider, the house is first reconnoitred by a member of 
the gang and the day of attack is usually kept secret from tin- 
informant. The member of the gang who has acquainted himself 
with the position etc. of the house, imparts his knowledge to 
his confederates by drawing a rough chart on the ground 
showing the exact topography of the house. 

Needless to say, Kaikadis take full advantage of the 
opportunities afforded them by association with other bad 


characters in jail to acquire information and plot crime to be 
committed on release. ' In their preliminaries, their methods and 
the manner of proceeding to and returning from the scene of a 
dacoity, whether house or highway, they show no noteworthy 
difference from any other criminals and criminal classes. All are 
influenced of course by the dictates of self-preservation. For 
instance, they travel as far as possible after dark and before 
dawn, avoid high-roads and places where police are likely to be 
encountered ; if day breaks before they can get home, they will 
hide in jungles and lonely places, break up into smaller parties 
and so on. They will sometimes engage en route a bullock 
cart for part of the journey to and from the scene of a distant 
dacoity and to disarm suspicion they will tie a goat to the 
tail of the cart to give the impression that the party is on the 
way to a fair. 

They believe in good and bad omens and of course use 
violence when this is necessary, and even when not, for they 
are very cruel under excitement. Before starting on a criminal 
expedition they feast and indulge in liquor and toddy freely, 
and propitiate the goddess Bhavani. In the Carnatic they 
worship the hatchet and kangatti. This ceremony is known as 
' Gavi.' Similar ceremonies and feasts are indulged in after a 
dacoity and of late some in the Deccan have taken to the ' Satya 
Narayan ' worship, employ a Brahmin for poojd and distribute 
dakshiud (alms) to Brahmins after a successful raid. In order 
to attain their object or secure their retreat they will stick at 
nothing, not even homicide. In a Kaikadi- ridden area the 
perpetration of a dacoity or burglary with exceptional violence 
or cruelty may almost certainly be regarded as a Kaikadi 
crime. At all events it is a safe working basis to begin on, 
particularly if bamboo or fresh-cut sticks have been left behind 
by the dacoits, betel-nut has been spat about or shoes -have 
been stolen from the house. Between eight and midnight is 
the usual time for delivering an attack, though sometimes 
dacoities have been committed during the small hours of the 

Before actually committing the dacoity, the members of 
the gang divest themselves of their superfluous clothes about 
a mile or so from the scene of the offence and there the leader 
of the gang gives instructions regarding the disposition of the 
members and the tactics to be followed. This spot is gene- 
rally selected off the direct route between their encampment 


and their objective, and here, after the commission of 
offence, some of ihe less valued of the stolen property is some- 
times left to mislead the police in respect to the direction in 
which the gang has made off home. 

The building to be attacked is invariably rushed, the Kai- 
kadis clambering over back walls and on to flat roofs, helping 
each other up, forcing open doors with an axe (their favourite 
weapon) for choice, or with heavy stones. Sometimes thorns 
are placed across lanes and approaches, and doors of neigh- 
bouring houses are chained from outside to prevent assistance 
reaching the inmates of the house attacked. 

Like other criminals they conceal their identity as far as 
possible when committing crime by baring the body to the 
waist, girding up their loins, wrapping up their heads and 
faces with cloths, occasionally smearing their faces with 
ashes or powder, and by the use of Hindustani words such as 
' Kalekhdn ' ; ' Sambhdlo^ Jamaddr ' / batdo ; mdro ; garib lok 
mat do ; bandook bharo etc., to scare the more venturesome 
away. In the Deccan, occasionally the roughly-made ladder 
or climbing pole described further on has been found on the 
scene of a dacoity known to be the work of Kaikadis. While 
some of the gang swarm on and into the house carrying 
torches or smashing open windows and doors with axe, crow- 
bar or large stones, others armed with slings, sticks etc., will 
keep up a shower of stones on all approaches to the house 
and attack any one who may attempt to come to the rescue, 
often, in the Deccan, exploding ' potash bombs ' to terrify and 
give the impression that the gang is armed with guns. Kai- 
kadis, in order to ascertain the place of concealment of money 
and valuables in the house, and to prevent any of the inmates 
escaping, will sometimes first collect the occupants of the 
house and either confine them in a room, the door of which 
is chained from outside, or some of the Kaikadis will mount 
guard over them while the owner of the house, or some one 
whom the Kaikadis know or think is acquainted with the place 
where the valuables are kept, is intimidated to make him point 
out the spot. Should he refuse, the Kaikadis will proceed 
to any length of cruelty to make him do so. While this is 
proceeding, some .of the gang break open receptacles and 
others relieve the females of the ornaments they are wearing. 

When the leader of the gang thinks it is time to be 
off, he gives the signal ' Nada ' or ' Khush ' in the Deccan, 
' Kalia ' or ' F"ile ' in the Carnatic, and on this all the Kai- 


kadis clear out of the house and assemble outside, where the 
leader, after satisfying himself all are present, gives the word 
(' Panjra,' in the Carnatic) and the gang decamps to the ren- 
dezvous and thence home, selecting if possible hard ground 
so as not to leave tracks. Those carrying the stolen property 
walk in the middle and are escorted by the rest of the gang. 
Instances are known where Kaikadis have left behind at the 
scene of the offence, shoes (probably stolen in some other 
case), clothes, etc., of the kind worn by other castes in order 
to mystify the police. While retreating from the scene of an 
offence, Kaikadis will now and then discard part of the loot 
near some village to throw suspicion on it. 

If any member of the gang is wounded or secured by any 
of the villagers during the commission of a crime or the 
retreat, the remainder will spare no efforts and stick at nothing 
to rescue or carry him off. If one of the gang is killed during 
the resistance or pursuit by villagers or police the others, if 
possible, carry the body away with them. 

If the encampment is a long way off, jdgrt, ground-nuts, 
etc., are openly purchased in some village en route by one 
or two of the gang who convey these to the main body in 
some secluded spot and after a hasty meal the retreat is con- 

Kaikadis, as a rule, attack but one house in the village, 
one previously marked down, and do not go in for the pro- 
miscuous looting of several houses. 

In a case on record it appeared that one of the gang had 
months before, under a disguise, done a few odd jobs for 
the complainant and had afterwards been lost sight of. He 
had of course marked down his prey, and his gang, after a 
suitable interval, assembled in ones and twos from all points 
of the compass at a pre-arranged rendezvous, committed 
the crime and made off in like manner. It was more than 
suspected that a Brahmin living in the vicinity had worked 
hand-in-glove with the gang and this is quite probable as it 
is frequently said that this form of aid is resorted to. 

The above displays in a striking manner, the great advance 
in methods in a comparatively primitive criminal people. 


In committing burglary, if entry is to be effected through 
a hole made in a flat roof, a piece of stick is sometimes 


placed across the hole, a pagri or rope attached to it and 
by this the intruder lowers himself into the house. In break- 
ing into a house through a wall the Deccan Kaikadi favours 
a hole at the bottom of the wall through which the burglar 
enters. While one or more individuals ransack the house, the 
others keep watch on all sides. 

In the Carnatic, Kaikadis either make a hole near the 
door-frame (in the ' bagli ' fashion) called ' nondabacka ' 
and inserting an arm remove the bolt or unchain the door, 
or enter through a hole made at the bottom of the wall 
(' rumali ' fashion) called ' manakalu.' Before ingress, a kamhli 
is wrapped round the end of a stick which is then inserted to 
receive the blow should any inmate of the house have been 
aroused and be standing by to attack the intruder. 

Pamlors and Kail Korwas are most expert burglars and the 
hole they make in a wall is neat and not unnecessarily large. 

Kaikadis do not, as a rule, outrage women when commit- 
ting crime nor remove the mangal-sutra (necklace), kekat- 
kc-iddi'i (hair ornament) or toe-rings from their persons, but 
show no tenderness if other valuables have to be removed. 
They respect the persons of infants. 

Deccan Kaikadis if unsuccessful in the first attempt will 
try other houses before giving up the venture. 

Highway Dacoity. 

Korchasand Kaddi Korwas are experts in this form of crime. 
Gangs of varying strength, from five to twenty in number, 
will leave their encampments and go long distances for the 
purpose. They proceed to some secluded spot favourable for 
concealment, two or three miles off the high-road to be exploited. 
Here they divest themselves of superfluous clothes etc. and 
the ' bermunsa ' leads the gang to a suitable part of the road 
as far distant as possible from villages. The party then 
breaks up into two or three groups which are disposed .11 short 
intervals along the road in ambush, the ' bermunsa ' with a 
confederate taking up a position on the road. On the approach 
of a cart, tonga or passenger worth looting, the ' benmmsa ' 
gives the signal and forthwith the different detachments rush 
out of hiding and commence operations. If a passenger has 
a weapon of offence, the 'bermunsa' attacks him first and 
Miaiehes the weapon away. Bullocks or ponies are invariahlv 
unyoked and the conveyance tipped up. Passengers an- 


belaboured, valuables snatched away, or off their persons, and 
occasionally they are left tied to trees to prevent their carry- 
ing information. The foray over, the gang makes off with 
the booty to the spot where their clothes have been left. 
Having recovered these, they make off rapidly till a halt 
is called, often twenty miles or so from the scene of the 
exploit. In this way they will operate on several roads and 
commit several dacoities before returning to their encampment 
with the booty. Women do not accompany them on such 

When committing crime they paint their faces and gird 
up their loins and are usually armed with sticks, stones and 
slings. They usually operate during the day, less frequently 
after dark. 

Kaddi Korwa women are expert thieves. The female 
leader is designated ' pulakulsi ' and gets four shares of the 
spoil, her husband being entitled to two. They will roam 
about in villages and towns begging but with an eye to more 
serious business. One of their many methods is as follows : 
Having marked down a house with a few occupants, while 
some post themselves near the back door, others in front start 
quarrelling and assault one another even to the extent of 
drawing blood. When the inmates of the house run out to 
interfere, the confederates in the rear enter the house by the 
back door and make off with what they can lay hands on. 

Confessions among Kaikadis are rare. 

Deserted encampments of Pamlors and Kail Korwas may 
be recognized by the manner in which, before leaving them, 
the cooking stones are closed up into heaps, each containing 
three or more stones and a profusion of chewed betel-nut 
stains, for the Kaikadi is very fond of chewing tobacco and 
pnii-siipdri. Before leaving an encampment, Kaikadis, besides 
collecting the stones as described above, smear their fore- 
heads with the ashes from the fire-places, \ipatrawllis (trays 
of leaves used as plates) made of dg or dkda leaves, are dis- 
covered lying about, they are a sure indication of a Pamlor 

The division of property obtained by crime is put off to a 

convenient opportunity when the affair has blown over. 

Members of other castes joining a Kaikadi gang are given 
cash only. 


In some Deccan gangs the ' naik ' or leader takes all the 
plunder, and where this is the practice he supports the entire 
gang and has to cater for it well, especially in respect to flesh 
and liquor, of which Kaikadis are very fond, providing necessaries 
and luxuries for all the families. In others, whether in Carnatic 
or Deccan, the leader gets two shares, each of the other 
members partaking in the venture getting one. But in any 
case, whether the leader takes an active part or not, he gets 
a share of the loot. Usually, a convicted Kaikadi gets his 
share of all spoil acquired by the gang during his absence. 
If killed in the commission of crime, his family continues to 
get a share till his son or some male member of the family 
grows up sufficiently to take an active part in dacoity. Quarrels 
about women and division of property often afford a clue, 
especially when the disputants are in liquor. All Kaikadis 
are intimately acquainted with the local limits of police 
stations and the jurisdictions of districts, and make full use 
of the knowledge. Encamping on the borders of one district 
they will go long distances, occasionally taking with them one 
or two women to cook for them, into another, commit a crime 
and recross the borders to their encampment with great 
rapidity. Thus they hope to establish an alibi, and as they 
almost always have local friends and supporters among the 
village police and villagers, and not unfrequently among 
taluka officers as well, they find these very useful in thwart- 
ing the efforts of the police whose duty it is to detect the 
crime and pursue and arrest the culprits. The bigger and 
more criminal gangs will generally be found on the borders 
of Native States and where two or more jurisdictions meet. 

A month or two after a successful raid, Kaikadis, provided 
no inconvenient enquiries have been made, have a big feast 
or hold SLjatra among themselves. They worship the ' Devi,' 
and men, women, and children indulge freely in drink and 
feasting. They often qua/rel on these occasions, and under 
the influence of liquor divulge important facts. The police 
should therefore always be on the look-out for these feasts 
or jatras and try to collect information at them. 

Kaikadis in custody must always be very carefully guarded 
as they will escape if they can and adopt all sorts of ruses 
to do so. Recently thirteen escaped from a good lockup by the 
following stratagem. One had confessed and pointed out 
property and all were under trial. At 8 p. m. the thirteen who 
were confined together in one cell began to quarrel and fight. 


Things looked serious, and the Kaikadi who had confessed, 

& * 

appealed to the sentry to save him from the rest and confine 
him in a separate lockup, otherwise, he said, he would be 
killed. The sentry, in defiance of Standing Orders, opened the 
cell door to extricate the unfortunate Kaikadi who had incurred 
the enmity of the rest by confessing. As he did so, the whole 
thirteen made a rush at the door, a chatty (eaithen pot) was 
dashed in the sentry's face, and all got away. Only one was 
then and there recaptured. Moral: when Kaikadis quarrel 
and fight in a cell, the whole guard should be turned out and 
prepare to frustrate attempt to escape before the cell door is 

The Kaikadi in short is an extremely intelligent and most 
difficult criminal to lay by the heels : he disguises himself ; 
he has brains ; he commits no offence of magnitude without 
a wealth of foresight ; he commits it at a great distance from 
his encampment and sticks at nothing. 

Kaikadis when committing crime arm themselves with 

sticks, slings, stones carried in a 

stock-in-trade, instruments dhotar or kambli tied round the waist, 

and weapons used in commit- -11 11 i i 

ting crime. sickles, hatchets, knives, crow-bars, 

and, if they can secure them, swords 

and guns. They also make use of torches. They carry too 
a stout iron bar a foot or more long tapering to a point called 
a sillakal,pansakollu or kangatti and sometimes, in the Deccan, 
use a rough ladder or climbing pole, improvised for the occasion 
from the trunk of a small tree the branches being lopped off, 
to gain access to the roof. 

The weapons on which they chiefly rely in this Presidency 
are however the kangatti, axe, often with a newly-cut handle, 
sticks (often freshly cut), bamboos, slings and stones. 
Their slings are unlike those in ordinary use by cultivators, 
being smaller. In the Carnatic, Kaddi Korwa women are 
reported to carry a bunch of keys and a big nail for opening 
and forcing the locks on doors of houses on the outskirts "of 

Stolen property is usually buried as soon as obtained, in 
a ravine, <7//fl//-banks, field, forest 

Ways and means of conceal- J an H burial TOUnd Or rubbish heap. 

ing or disposing; of stolen pro- T ' i r i- i -11 

pe^ty. Later, use is made or dishonest village 

officers, sdivknrs, money-lenders, liquor 

and toddy shopkeepers, goldsmiths and villagers, to assist in 
the disposal of booty. In the Carnatic when much valuable 

B 5146 


property is buried and is likely to remain so for some time, 
a rupee is cut, and this, with a piece of iron, is buried with it to 
guard it from subterranean evil spirits. Kaikadis and Kail 
Korwas are not now so dependent on outside assistance for 
melting ornaments as they were. They have learnt how to 
do this for themselves. 

An instance is on record where a gang of Kaikadi dacoits 
was accompanied by a goldsmith, who awaited the gang's 
return from the scene of the dacoity at the rendezvous and 
then and there bought the loot ; and another instance of four 
Kaikadis belonging to a large gang having removed valuable 
property by a horse tonga soon after the commission of a big 
dacoity. Property is also disposed of in Bombay and other 
large towns and cities by Kaikadis who visit these in the guise 
of well-to-do Marathas, Patils and Deshmukhs for the 

Under their cooking places, saddles, bedding and near the 
tent pegs to w r hich their asses are tethered, used to be 
favourite places for hiding property ; but all this is now chang- 
ed, such places being well known to the police. In a recent 
case quite a number of stolen ornaments and thirty rupees in 
cash were found woven into the edges of baskets and winnowing 
trays and sewn up in the quilts and bedding of a Kaikadi gang. 

Kaikadis are not always above-board with one another in 
the matter of the property obtained during a raid, and some 
will occasionally, on the way back from the scene of a crime, 
throw away, unbeknown to the others, some of the property 
they have secured and come back for it later, thus securing 
a larger share than their due. If the gang suspects a member 
of such a fraud, he is made to undergo an ordeal known as 
' praman.' Oil is heated to boiling point, a two-anna piece 
or a small ring is thrown in, and the suspected person is 
made to pick it out with the fingers. If he burns his fingers 
he is adjudged guilty ; if not, he is exonerated of the charge. 
Each member of the gang conceals his own share of the loot. 

The prolonged stay of a Kaikadi encampment at a village 
justifies the safe inference that the village officers and some 
of the villagers are making profit out of its presence and an 
affording the Kaikadis some sort of encouragement and pro- 

In the matter of conveying property from place to place, 
and disposal or otherwise, the services of their old \v<mrn an.- 


often utilized. The property is concealed in a saddle or bag 
on a donkey and an old hag drives or rides the animal. 

If a gang at its encampment is being searched, the move- 
ments of any women who ask for permission to go beyond the 
police cordon to obey a call of nature or for any other purpose, 
will always repay watching. They are clever at secreting 
property about their persons, in the folds of their saris at their 
waist, in the mouth and in their arm-pits. The ground 
where Kaikadis have encamped should be ploughed up before 
search is abandoned as in one case on record some 1,400 rupees 
worth of property was recovered in this way. 

Among Korwas on the move, stolen goods of little value, 
the kangatti and axe are carried by one of the gang who 
avoids high-roads. Valuables are removed at night after arrival 
at the new encampment (one or two of the gang returning 
for the purpose) and are again buried somewhere near the 
new camping ground. 

Another means of disposing of the stolen property is for a 
clever and good-looking female member of the gang to get 
herself up as a Lingayat woman and sell it openly under the 
pretence of raising money to redeem mortgaged land. 


Katkaris are also known as Kathodis. The tribe is divided 
Name of criminal class into two classes : the Dhor KiUkari 
ortribe - and the Maratha or Sone, literally 

pure, Katkari. 

The tribe is confined almost exclusively to the Thana and 
, . the Kolaba Districts where go per 

Habitat. ... . f . . , i i 

cent will be round. A few thousands 

in Nasik, Poona, Satara, Ratnagiri and the Native States 
under these districts, make up the balance. 

The country, covered with jungle and intersected by nallahs 
and rivers, between the sea-coast and the Sahyadri range, is 
their habitat. They never live actually on the sea-coast nor 
do they inhabit the tract directly below the ghats. A few 
have settled above ghats but were originally inhabitants of 
the Konkan and have migrated. 

Kathodis infest the hills and wilds of the northern Konkan. 

They wander into the Surat, Nasik, 
Spher d e e r in g a p r SvUie d s wan ' Ahmednagar, Sholapur, Poona, Kolaba 

and Ratnagiri Districts, Dharampur 

State and Damaun Territory, for purposes of crime. The 
sphere of their activity is confined to ten or fifteen miles from 
their encampments. The majority lead an open-air roving 
existence ; a good many of the more well-to-do have however 
settled near villages and do not wander. 

The census returns of 1901 relating to this tribe give 
Population according to last the strength and distribution as 

census, and distribution. under 


Males. Fem.'ili-; 

Thana ... 11,186 11,116 

Javvhar State . . . 446 405 

Nasik ... 353 349 

Poona ... 356 313 

Satara ... 84 71 

Sholapur ... i 10 

Bhor State 1,449 '.33 1 

Khandesh Agency ... 2 6 

Kolaba ... 14,232 i5>55<> 

Ratnagiri ... 412 434 






8 57 

86 3 




Southern Maratha 




Total . 




, j 


Total . 






Jawhar State 








3 1 




Khandesh Agency 



Bhor State 





53 2 

Total . 






Katkaris ... ... ... 59,872 

Kathodis ... ... ... 15,823 

Total ... 75,695 

Being one of the most depressed and poorest of the forest 
tribes, the hard life and hand-to- 

Habits. appearance, dress, etc. , . tr ,\ i j i 

mouth existence Katkaris lead, have 

to some extent undermined their constitution. Though strong, 
well built and wiry in their prime, both sexes rapidly deterio- 
rate later in life. They are slight, well built, of medium height 
and very active. Their complexion is brown to very dark and 
somewhat shiny, eyes deep sunk, bridge of nose shallow, 
lips full. In both sexes the hair is often curly. Their attire 
is very scanty, a loin cloth or langoti and a piece of cloth 
wound round the head usually suffices the male. - Sometimes 
a tattered jacket (karpi) is worn below an uparni or an old 
blanket. Sone Katkaris shave the head ; Dhors seldom do 
so and all as a rule wear their hair tied in a knot. They 
cannot be distinguished from Sones, except that the former 
occasionally wear black glass beads round their necks or wrists. 
Females wear a skimpy sari braced up very tight between the 
legs, cleverly just covering their nakedness, one end being 
passed over the chest and shoulders, occasionally covering 
the head too. 


The bodice is not generally worn except on feast days 
and by a few well-to-do who live near large towns or 
villages. They also wear necklaces or paths consisting of 
strings of small glass beads of various colours. Sone Katkari 
women wear brass and glass bangles and brass armlets, 
brass ear and hair chains and sometimes a string of old brass 
buttons tied round the knob of hair worn at the back of tin- 
head. They do not tattoo the inner part of the fore-arm. 
Dhors tattoo the arm and wear only glass bangles. Ear-rings 
complete the females' adornment in each division, the Sones 
wearing large and Dhors small. Sones do not wear anklets 
but some Dhors affect brass ones. Little attention is paid 
to the hair ; in fact the whole class is squalid and dirty to a 
degree and their huts are usually devoid of the ordinary 
domestic and household goods. They are of low caste and 
are not allowed to reside in any village, so live apart. Those 
who are settled live in more or less permanent structures 
with grass roofs, others in temporary huts. The latter are 
typical structures, about eight to twelve feet in diameter and 
conical in shape. Clusters of these and Katkari dwellings 
on the outskirts of villages go to make up the ' Kat \\utli ' 
which is by some said to be the derivation of ' Kathodi,' 
misapplied to the class instead of the hamlets. 

Ndchni, warai, sdwa (poor cereals), rice and wild 
roots are their staple food ; they are partial to field rats, 
squirrels, some kinds of lizards, the mungoose, and are said 
to eat even monkeys. When in funds they drink and smoke 
to excess. The Katkari is a child of the forest. He evinces 
a natural aversion to settled and civilized life. The usual wail 
of the mourner over the dead body of a departed Katkari 
runs thus : 

" If ever in the manifold migrations of thy soul thou hast 
the chance of being born as a human being, be thou not a 
Brahmin, for he has to write and write and die ; nor a Kunbi, 
for he ploughs till death;'' and thus for a variety ot castes 
ending with "but be thou a Katkari, for then thou shalt be 
Jiingla did Raja (the king of the forest)." 

Their headmen are called ' naiks,' and they are consulted 
on all social matters, resort being also had to caste inert in- 

Like Mahadev Kolis, Katkaris are extremely difficult to 
pursue, locate and capture, as they are agile, fleet <>f f<<>t 
and can. at a pinch, live on next-to-nothing. Fortunately they 


will often give useful information against one another and thus 
assist the police if tactfully managed. 

Their mother-tongue is Marathi, much abused and clipped 
Dialect and peculiarities and pronounced with a nasal twang, 
of speech. there being a marked tendency to 

shorten words by dropping the inflexions. 

They are believed to have words and expressions peculiar 
to themselves which are not intelli- 

blang used. ... . .. ...... 

gible to the ordinary individual. For 

instance, for fish they use the word sdro and for fishing 

The Sone Katkaris are the more settled of the two 

divisions of the tribe, and many of 

ble ii"oo a d. S ' them are field labourers. For the 

rest, Katkaris still extract catechu from 

the khair tree, collect and sell fuel and other jungle produce 
such as berries, roots etc. They also fell trees and manu- 
facture charcoal. They are fond of fishing, hunting ground 
game and exchange the fish and game caught for rice and 
other food -grains. In the hot weather they are employed 
in considerable numbers to repair the bunds in the rice fields 
and during the rains, labour in the fields. They lead thus but 
a precarious existence and eke out what they can earn by 
resort to jungle berries, roots and field mice which they 
dig out of paddy bunds. They also glean rice from paddy 
fields after the harvest is over, and explore holes made by 
field mice to recover the grain stored there by these little 

They adopt no disguises when committing crime, but of 
course conceal their features by wrap- 
P^g up their faces. By their dress, 
appearance and dialect they are easy 
of identification. 

They commit burglaries, ordinary thefts of grain, goats, 
sheep and fowl, and are adept tent 

Crime to which addicted. . . ... . * , 

thieves, cutting their way in through 

kanats noiselessly, and removing small boxes and any other 
articles they can lay their hands on. They occasionally attack 
and rob grasping contractors for the purchase of forest produce, 
when the latter are moving about the jungles, hold up travellers 
or carts, but rarely if ever, go out into outlawry. Their crimes 
as a rule are unaccompanied by unnecessary acts of cruelty 
or violence. 


Here and there instances have occurred of individuals 
charged with serious crime, taking to the jungles and 
becoming outlaws, but such cases are very rare. The most 
recent instance was that of Jania, a Sone Katkari of Kopol 
in Kolaba District, who murdered his brother-in-law, armed 
himself with a gun and defied capture, which was effected only 
after much trouble. 

No organized crime is committed by them and, when they 
do indulge in a burglary, it is generally a simple affair and not 
distinguished by methods characteristic of clever criminals. 
1 Pilferer ' or ' sneak ' probably best describes the Katkari. 

In one instance Katkaris were strongly suspected of 
having desecrated a grave in a European cemetery in the hope 
of securing valuables believed to have been buried with the 

There is practically nothing distinctive in the Katkaris' 
methods when committing crime. But 

Methods employed in com- , , . . P. f 

mitting crime, and disiinguish- where the class is in evidence, thefts 
ing characterisiics likely to accompanied by the loss of cooked 

afford a clue. r , l , ,1 , i i 11 i- 

tood and other eatables, small live- 
stock such as poultry and goats, are characteristic of 
their handiwork; or, the finding of a bamboo or a koita 
(chopper) at the scene of the offence, points to Katkaris 
as the probable culprits. 

It is also a noteworthy fact that Katkari criminals will not, 
during the commission of an offence, touch, or in any way 
defile, any high caste Hindu cooking-place. 

A sickle, a chopper, a thin bar of iron called palm mi, 
which is used both for burglary and 

Stock-in-trade instruments digging OUt StOnCS, field mice etc., 
and weapons used jn commit- . . ' 

ting crime. and very occasionally bows and arrows 

are the weapons >and instruments 
carried when committing crime. 

They mostly sell their stolen property to goldsmiths, 

liquor vendors, and villagers, often 

Ways and means of conceal- patils , and generally through tli.-ir 

ing or disposing of stolen ~ f e ' T o J t 

property. temales. It is conveyed sometimes 

at the bottom of a basket containing 

fresh fish which they will sell to no one but the 'receiver.' 
Another dodge is to conceal small articles in a piece of 
rag tied as a bandage to an imaginary sore or wound behind 


the knee or round the thigh. If any one likely to make 
inconvenient enquiries is met, much limping is of course 
indulged in. If the quondam invalid is followed, it will pro- 
bably be found that he goes to a goldsmith's house and 
that after his visit the rag on the game leg as well as the 
limp have disappeared. 

Liquor shopkeepers are notorious ' receivers ' of this tribe. 

Stolen poultry or small live-stock are eaten at once or sold 

to villagers. 


In these notes the only Kolis calling for notice, because of 
tlu-ir criminal propensities, are the ' Mahadeo' Kolis inhabiting 
tlu- Western Sahyadri Range and the Kolis of Gujerat. There 
are other known varieties of the Koli caste such as ' Malhar ' 
or ' Panbhari ' Kolis, ' Dhor ' Kolis, ' Agri ' and ' Son ' Kolis, 
etc., but these are distinct from the ' Mahadeo ' and ' Gujerat ' 
Kolis forming the subject of this note and are not a source of 
anxiety to the police. 


This tribe includes those known as ' Raj ' Kolis so styled 
because of their kinship with the 

Name of the criminal class . . e .. ... T i c- 

or tribe. princely family ot the Jawhar htate, 

a Koli raj. 

They inhabit the rough country above and below the 
Western Ghats or Sahyadri Range 
lying in the Poona, Thana, Kolaba, 
Ahmednagar and Nasik Districts and the Jawhar State. 

Mahadeo Kolis are not a nomadic tribe but are all settled 
in villages. They are intensely fond 
an " of their ghat fastnesses and the wild 
rough country along the ghats they 
inhabit. Nothing will tempt them to leave the security of 
these in pursuit of crime. Subject to these limitations the 
movements of criminal Kolis, whether individual outlaws or 
gangs, know no restrictions, and often thirty or forty miles are 
covered during the twenty-four hours, in the extremely difficult 
country they inhabit, to evade capture or commit crime. 

Kolis will not of choice, under any circumstances, go into 
the ' deshi bhag ' or plain country, though many of them are 
to be found in Bombay City working as labourers, and 
individual outlaws are shrewd enough to appreciate the advan- 
tages of a large city like Bombay as a place of concealment. 

The census reports do not show Mahadeo Kolis separately 
and there is no source from \\hirh 

Population according to last .1 i , , A 

census, and distribution. their . number and distribution can 

readily be obtained. However, the 
information is not of much importance as the < lass is distri- 

KOLIS. 91 

buted only over the limited area mentioned above, predomi- 
nates there, and is not met with elsewhere. 

Both men and women are short, medium to sturdy in 
build, wiry, fair to dark, quick, shrewd, 

Appearance, dress, etc. . , : ,/. , . , c ' , . 

with intelligent bright races and keen 

senses. The women are well formed and many of them 
are distinctly comely and more refined perhaps than the 
ordinary Kunbi women. 

A hill tribe living in such country as they do, it goes 
without saying that they are inured to every kind of fatigue, 
can live on very little, are active as cats and can travel great 
distances. Many of the men are hard-working, but as a class 
they are improvident, poor, easily satisfied and excessively 

Their dress shows some slight variations, more pronounced 
in the case of the women, according to the part of the 
ghats they inhabit ; but as a rule the men wear a short 
dhotar or panja, a bandi (coat) or pair -an (shirt), a coloured 
or white turban and pdsodi (shoulder-cloth) or ghongdi 
(blanket). In the Konkan a dhotar or langoti t a turban or 
rumdl and a ghongdi is the usual costume. Most men wear 
a waist-band or girdle called kdcha. 

Women wear the sari, some after the style of poor Kunbi 
women, others in short dhotar fashion, the end being fastened 
off round the waist and the head covered with a phadki ) or 
left bare according to fancy. A large nose-ring embellished 
with hollow brass or gold beads, is always worn. The 
women do not actually participate in the commission of 
crime, but one, here and there, is occasionally picked up 
with an outlaw gang. They are as active, capable of 
endurance, and thoroughly conversant with the rough country 
they live in, as the men, and are very clever and efficient in 
communicating information regarding the movements of the 
police to the men and in conveying supplies to them when 
' out.' 

Kolis are more or less dirty in their dress, smoke, will 
drink liquor but are temperate, sober, and clean feeders. 
In their dwellings they seldom burn lights, the flicker of the 
fire being sufficient for all purposes. A great many of the 
women are, among their own tribesmen, of loose moral 
character though they do not often go wrong with outsiders. 
As a result intrigues, usually ending in social and familv 
feuds, occasionally in bloodshed, are numerous. Infidelity 


among the women leading to elopements or abductions is a 
very fruitful cause of further trouble. The aggrieved 
husband or family retaliates and many a wronged Koli has 
thus been driven to acts of violence and subsequent outlawry. 
Their social leader is called ' karbhari ' or ' kh6t ' in the 
Konkan. They live in kembli or wattle-and-daub huts witli 
thatch roofs, and whole villages are populated entirely by 
Kolis living in huts of this type. A few who are in affluent 
circumstances live in more substantial buildings with tile or 
corrugated iron roofs. 

The year 1845 was rendered famous in Koli history 
by the excesses of the notorious Raghoji Bhangria who, 
becoming an outlaw, organized bands of Kolis with whom he 
roamed the countryside revenging himself on avaricious 
Marwadis by cutting off their noses. Strong measures broke 
up his gangs but not till the Marwadi community for the most 
part had fled in terror. Raghoji was ultimately caught at 
Pandharpur by Captain Cell, convicted and hanged. 

When disorder and confusion reigned in 1857-58 a corps 
of these Ghat Kolis was raised by Captain Nuttal and 
proved very useful in helping to put down disturbances. It 
was disbanded in 1861. 

The Marwadis resorting to their extortionate methods, 
suffered again in 1873 at the hands of Honya and his gangs. 
This famous outlaw was ultimately caught in 1876 by Major 
Daniell, the then District Superintendent of Police, Poona. 
Various risings have taken place from time to time since that 
period among the Kolis of the ghats bordering the Ahmednagar, 
Nasik, Poona and Thana Districts and are traceable for the most 
part to seasons of scarcity, combined with the exacting demands 
of the Marwadis with whom they had monetary transactions. 

They speak the Marathi of the lower orders which in parts 

suffers by reason of certain marked 

K rf a ?pS? lia peculiarities of pronunciation e.g., ' i ' 

is used for the final ' a,' and ' y ' is 

substituted for ' sh ' in the middle of a word, thus, for 
' tiana ' (to them) they say ' tiani ' and for ' kashala ' (why) 
they say ' kayala.' 

They speak with a nasal accent and clip their words, for 
instance, ' ba ' for ' baba,' ' Ganpada 'for ' Ganpat dada/ and 
so on, and generally accent the principal word of the sentence. 
Slang used. Kolis have no slang. 



As a class they are cultivators in a small way (mostly in 
the Bania's hands) and field labourers. 
of live- Some have acceptec ] Government 

service in the Forest and the Police 
departments ; a few are school-masters in the Koli villages 
but mostly they live by labour and the collection and sale 
of hirdd (myrabolam), grass, wood and forest fruits and 
berries. Many, owing to the poverty of the soil in the ghats, 
their own improvidence and bad seasons, are often sore 
pressed for a square meal and subsist largely on jungle roots, 
berries etc., in the hot months or have resort to crime for 
their sustenance. 

Beyond muffling their faces, occasionally wearing false 
moustaches and beards made of goat- 

t * f *5 i&. means skin, or, rigged up in old dark or 

khdkt clothing (sometimes even putties 

and boots), masquerading as policemen or forest peons, Kolis 
affect no disguise in the commission of crime. There is a 
case on record in which a Koli gang headed by a leader who 
had made himself notorious, gained peaceable entrance to a 
village at night by posing as a police escort in charge of two 
prisoners. The bogus policemen were dressed up in dark 
clothes, carried guns and swords and two of the gang, tied by 
the arms, walked in the centre personating the prisoners. This 
ruse enabled the gang to advance right through the village to 
the chawdi where they at once disclosed their true character 
by attacking the villagers and looting houses. 

They sometimes make use of Hindustani words, and in 
parts ' hoor hoor ' is a favourite utterance during the commis- 
sion of a dacoity. 

The Koli is not a burglar or thief in the ordinary sense. 
crime to which addicted. Though given to petty thieving, he is 

a source of trouble and anxiety only 

when he takes to outlawry, and then he commits dacoity, 
robbery, grievous hurt and sometimes murder. 

In the matter of criminal tendencies, Kolis bear a strono- 
resemblance to Bhils. The predatory instinct and love of 
adventure is still strong in them. A season of scarcity, the 
grasping avariciousness and exacting demands of money- 
lenders, or some domestic grievance drives individuals into 
outlawry and once an outlaw has established a reputation as 
a successful freebooter he soon attracts others, with or with- 
out some grievance fancied or real, to his standard. Unless 


speedily dispersed, captured or disposed of, the gang thus formed 
increases and multiplies and soon creates a reign of terror. 
They raid villages and extort black-mail, known as khand, in the 
shape of food, gunpowder or money ; loot Murwutlis, and burn 
their accounts; cut off noses and slit ears; hold up solitary 
policemen and forest peons, whom they beat, tie to trees and 
rob, and generally harry and terrorize the countryside by crimes 
of violence. 

Such outbreaks are difficult to deal with by reason of the 
fact that the outlaw gangs are sheltered, through sympathy or 
fear, and assisted by their caste fellows, while the Kolis' 
intimate knowledge of every jungle path and hiding place, and 
their hardiness and activity, enable them to successfully evade 
pursuit and capture by the police. 

Kolis are also given to illicit distillation of liquor. 

There is seldom any doubt as to the perpetrators of a 
crime in which Kolis are concerned : 

Meth mitttn m g P S. " firstly, because their offences are con- 

fined to a tract of country seldom 

affected by other classes ; secondly, because there is very 
little attempt at secrecy. Their attacks, whether on dwellings, 
villages or individuals, and whether by day or night, are always 
open. They go straight for their objective, create an uproar, 
demand What they want, intimidate and by their numbers and 
recklessness, terrorize their victims, and having secured the 
booty, make off into the jungles and disappear. 

When the object of a gang is to wreak vengeance on some 
usurious money-lender, it will enter the village, usually by night, 
burn his books, take such money, jewellery and clothes as it 
can lay hands on, perhaps mutilate him, sometimes kill him 
and even violate the women in the house. By way of precau- 
tion the doors of the neighbouring houses are sometimes 
chained up. If the object is to secure supplies, levy khand or 
take revenge for some insult or injury, such as the abduction 
of some woman, the gang overawes the villagers by the 
display of swords and the reports of guns or bombs and 
openly demands or forcibly takes from several of the huts 
what it requires, or attacks the victim's house and avenges 
the insult, often in the most cold-blooded and brutal manner. 

To show to what extent Kolis will go when smarting under 
a sense of wrong, it is sufficient to mention a case on record in 
which a well-to-do Koli was dragged from his house one night 

KOLIS. 95 

by an outlaw gang, tied to a post on the verandah, and hacked 
to death with swords, for an intrigue with a woman. 

Outlaw gangs have been known to ruthlessly murder ' infor- 
mers,' loot police lines, surprise, ambush, attack and cut up 
considerable police parties, whose uniforms and weapons they 
then appropriate to their own use. 

A Koli ' informer ' is most difficult to obtain and when 
secured requires adequate and constant protection. In a case 
on record an armed party of eight policemen were set upon, 
wounded and beaten and the spy they had in their charge 
wrested from them and crucified. 

Koli outlaws when thoroughly roused and desperate are 
extremely difficult to deal with and account for, by reason of 
the terror they create, the sympathy and active assistance 
extended to them by their caste fellows and their elusiveness, 
great mobility and intimate knowledge of the country. 

Every Koli is an ( informer ' for the gang ; every hill is a 
signal station and every village sends its messenger ; and in the 
ghat country a Koli will do thirty miles while a policeman is 
doing ten, into the wilds and fastnesses with the latest news 
regarding the movements of the police. 

Apart from a few law-abiding Kolis and those who may 
have suffered from outlaw raids, the great majority of the class 
regard a proclaimed leader and his gang as heroes, sympathise 
with them in their campaign against money-lenders, forest 
officials, etc., aid them to evade the police and will, if need be, 
feed and harbour them. Hence outlawry thrives, as everything 
operates against the forces of the State and in favour of the 

The following three reasons have actually been advanced by 
intelligent Kolis in support of the belief they entertain that the 
presence and continued immunity in the ghat area of some 
famous outlaw and his following are an advantage rather than 
otherwise to them as a class : 

(i) The rate of interest demanded by money-lenders is 
kept down and an effective check is imposed on the movements 
and demands of the money-lending class. 

(ii) The forest peons who have to travel about alone in the 
jungle behave better generally and are less zealous in the 
discharge of their duties. 


(iii) A reputation for being easily excited to outlawry and 
crime secures for them, a poor unrepresented hill tribe, atten- 
tion, consideration and concessions from Government which 
otherwise they would be unlikely to secure. 

The only effective way to deal with outbreaks in the ghats 
is, in the first place, to prevent individual outlaws from secur- 
ing a following. Once a man of any reputation is known to 
have gone ' out,' no efforts should be spared to bring about his 
speedy capture before he makes himself famous. His village, 
or that of his wife or mistress, and his favourite haunts should 
be picketted with armed police and he should be hunted till 
caught. Should he succeed in forming a gang, no time should 
be lost in throwing as many armed police as possible at once 
into the area likely to be affected ; villages where the gang 
have friends or attractions should be guarded, patrols 
organized, passes up and down the ghats held, and the armed 
police be in evidence as much as possible in order to afford 
well disposed villagers a sense of security, and thereby secure 
their assistance and sympathy. Unless this line of action 
is adopted and protection afforded, those who would prefer to 
be on the side of authority have, through fear or motives of 
self interest, to keep their council and either actively or 
passively assist the outlaws. Some advantage may be looked 
for by calling a meeting of all influential and well disposed 
Kolis in the villages in the disturbed area and endeavouring to 
enlist their sympathy on the side of law and order. 

Many of the Kolis are good shots, and a desperate outlaw 
is a dangerous man to tackle as from the nature of his surround- 
ings he generally gets in the first shot. Up to a point armed 
resistance is stubborn, but once Kolis realize that the tables 
are turned they surrender readily or bolt. 

Koli dacoits generally arm themselves with bamboos ringed 

and loaded called lavangi hit hi <>r 

stock-in-trade instruments ordinary sticks, and if procurable old 

and weapons used in commit- ' tec 

ting crime. guns, some rusty swords, a few of 

which are still kept in concealment in 

the ghats or obtained from Jawhar. If swords are not readily 
available, they manufacture wooden ones and cover these 
with silver paper to make them appear real. In the ghats, 
every Koli also carries his koitd or chopper, slung in a 
wooden frog, on his buttocks. 

KOLIS. 97 

Stolen property is distributed among the members of the 
gang immediately after a dacoity, the 

Ways and means of conceal- leader receiving a larger share. Pend- 
ing or disposing of stolen ... , . <, 

property. ing disposal, property is usually 

buried in the forests. Sonars are their 
chief ( receivers.' 

Eatables, fowls and the like, are consumed at once. 


Gujerat Kolis are divided into four main divisions which 
Name of criminal class appear to be territorial rather than 

or tribe. tribal: 

Chunvaliyas, also called Jahangrias ; 
Khants or Borderers ; 

Patanvadiyas or Anhilpur Kolis, also called Kohodas (i. e., 
axes, probably in the sense of ruthlessness) or Jhangads ; 

Talabdas, or local Kolis, also called Dharalas or swords- 
men, and in parts Thakardas. 

These classes are again parcelled into numerous clans, an 
enumeration of which would serve no useful purpose. Besides 
the main divisions mentioned above, there are Barias, Dalvadis, 
Gediyas, Shials and Valakiyas, who take their names from 
their original domicile. 

Kolis are to be met with all over Gujerat and Kathiawar. 
They are most numerous in the latter 

Habitat. J . . . . . . 

province and the north or Gujerat 

and are more sparsely distributed towards Broach and 

Chunvaliyas are mostly found in Ahmedabad, Kathiawar 
and Baroda ; Khants in the north-eastern portion of Gujerat 
and in parts of Kathiawar ; Patanvadiyas in central Gujerat, 
chiefly in the Kaira District, while Talabdas, the most nume- 
rous of all the divisions are spread all over Gujerat, in greater 
numbers in Ahmedabad, Kaira and Baroda. 

B 5H7 


Kolis are not wanderers though great numbers have, in 

search of labour, migrated from the 

Sphere of activity and wan- villages tothe larger business centres 

denne proclivities. , . . , , , . ... 

and cities where they earn their living 

in various ways. Individuals are known to have strayed as 
far south as Madras and north to Sind. 

Their criminal activities are confined to the province of 
Gujerat and Kathiawar, for they do not as a rule travel far 
from their villages in pursuit of crime. They are known to 
visit Rutlam and the neighbouring portions of Malwa and 
particularly to patronize the larger towns situated on the B. B. 
and C. I. Railway. Their excursions by road may, on special 
occasions, extend to a radius of thirty to fifty miles from their 
homes. They have no fixed season for criminal expeditions, 
nor do they embark on regular tours. They bide their time 
so to say, sallying forth when a favourable opportunity offers, 
returning home after their object has been accomplished. Aw.'iy 
from their villages, unless temporarily settled in towns, they are 
not encumbered by families and either put up with friends, 
in out-of-the-way dhanunsalds or temples or in the open 
some distance from villages under trees, passing themselves 
off as wayfarers. 

Population according to last The census figures for Gujerat are 

census and distribution. ^^ follows 

Males. Females. 

Ahmedabad ... 97,449 90,767 

Broach 3. 8l 3 3> 8 57 

Kaira ... 131,398 120,677 

Panch Mahals ... 25,139 23,501 

Surat 47>573 5 2 34 

Cambay ... 7,020 6,510 

Cutch ... 5,059 4,965 

Kathiawar ... 127,898 120,666 

Mahi Kantha ... 49,033 43i3o6 

Palanpur ... 52,580 46,214 

Rewa Kantha ... 77,750 72,680 

Surat Agency ... 6,964 7*35 

658,676 619,582 

The figures for places outside Gujerat cannot be given with 
any degree of accuracy as the census returns do not differ- 
entiate between Gujerat and other kinds of Kolis. 

Owing partly to the variety of life they lead and partly to 

A thrir roniNTtion with superior classes, 

Appearance, dress etc. T _ ,. , f. , 

Kolis conform to no particular type of 

KOLIS. 99 

features. The Talabdas are the most civilized of all the 
divisions and have the manners and features of Kunbis and 
Rajputs. They are generally fair, good-looking, strong, well 
built, active, of average height, thrifty, well-to-do and hold 
the highest place among Kolis. Their females are usually 
slender, well formed with a pleasing expression of features and 
some are pretty. 

Chunvaliyas have more of the features and characteristics 
of the Bhil than whom they are only a little higher in position 
and intelligence. They were at one time a body of organized 
plunderers and the terror of Gujerat and among them are still 
men of unruly and criminal habits. They are rather tall, well 
set up, active, hardy and generally of sallow complexion. 
The Thakardas or landholders among them are good-looking 
and fair like Talabdas. 

Khants are a wild tribe, in appearance and condition little, 
if at all, different from Bhils. Excepting their leaders who are 
good-looking, the lower orders are inferior in appearance to the 
generality of Talabdas. They are of swarthy complexion, 
robust, hardy, of average height, and well built ; as a class 
they are much given to thieving. 

The Patanvadiyas are somewhat dark of complexion, 
stalwart, active, hardy, high spirited and daring, more closely 
resembling Vaghris and Bhils. In the early part of the last 
century they were credited with being the most blood-thirsty 
and untam sable plunderers, mercenaries and free-booters, but 
in places of trust proved staunch and honest. 

Kolis as a class are reputed to be daring, artful, relentless 
and even cruel, inured to fatigue and hardship, active and 
fleet of foot, and though some of them are prosperous, the 
majority are thriftless, lazy and fond of ease. 

Speaking generally, the costume of Kolis varies but little 
from that of the poorer classes in Gujerat. The usual dress 
of the male Koli consists of a white or colored head-scarf, 
a jacket and a waist-cloth or dhoti, all of coarse cloth, 
and country shoes. Sometimes they don angarkhds reach- 
ing to the waist. In parts of Kathiawar, Palanpur and 
Chunval, trousers are preferred, and over these and round 
the waist some fasten a cloth after the manner of Girasias. 
At social gatherings a turban takes the place of the head- 
scarf and a pichodi is worn over the shoulders. A few in 
Chunval, Kathiawar and Patan allow the beard to grow, but 


the majority shave the chin and some wear whiskers. Kolis 
are flesh eaters but eschew beef. Patanvadiyas and some 
Khants eat the flesh of the buffalo and are consequently held 
in low estimation by the other classes. Both sexes partake 
of intoxicating liquor. They are great tobacco smokers, and 
in parts of north Gujerat they are given to indulgence in 
opium. The woman's costume consists of a petticoat with a 
backless bodice and a robe. In Surat and parts of the 
Broach District the petticoat is not worn, a sari being 
wound tightly round the waist and thighs and tucked up leaving 
the lower portion of the limbs free, the upper end being drawn 
over the shoulders so as to cover the body. The well-to-do 
wear a gold or silver hansdi (necklace), ear-rings, glass 
bangles, silver anklets and toe-rings. Those in indigent 
circumstances wear ornaments of cheap metals and wooden 
bracelets ; some wear glass and gold bead necklaces. 

Dialect and peculiarities Kolis speak the Gujerati of the 

of speech. lower orders. 

Their argot is not very extensive. 

Slang and S!gns used. , . & * f 

1 he following are a few of their 
expressions :-- 

Slang. Meaning. 

ramava javoon ... to go on a thieving excursion. 

chami javoon ... to know, to take a hint. 

chavli uthvoon ... to wake up. 

khangavalo ... a watch. 

kalo bhairav . .. \ 

baladi ... la policeman. 

kutaru ... j 

sandh or p^do ... a police officer. 

pankhdi ... a sum of money. 

gadabiyo . . . ^ 

patharo ... V melted gold or silver ornaments. 

(Ihekhalo ...) 

khunto .. a skeleton key. 

bando ... a confederate. 

mario ... silver or gold ornaments. 

zeini ... theft. 

sgar ... a Dharala member of a Y;ighri 

gang. (His services arc made 
use of to procure catabli-s 
from towns and to \\at< h tin- 
encampment while the Vagh- 
ris arc absent.) 




dhoor unchi 
dhoor nichi 


a Vaghri member of a gang of 

rich prey, 
poor prey, 

a companion, friend, 
a difficulty or obstacle. 

Ostensible means of live- 

The cry of the jackal is, on suitable occasions, imitated to 
attract one another's attention or assemble a gang. They 
also make use of low whistles to one another when actually 
committing crime. 

As a class Kolis are husbandmen and field laborers. They 
accept service as private or village 
watchmen and are sometimes em- 
ployed as trackers. Some purchase 
the right to gather mangoes, mhowra flowers, etc., from trees 
and sell the produce to wholesale dealers ; others ply carts for 
hire, collect and sell cart-loads of fuel, draw hand-carts, work 
as labourers in mills and serve as porters, pumpers, etc., on the 
railway, while not a few have entered Government service as 
taldtiS) policemen, and peons. In fact Kolis living in indus- 
trial centres will turn their hands to pretty well anything as 
day labourers. Those living on the sea-coast are fishermen 
and boatmen, and in the Surat District many a Koli works as 
a mason. 

Koli land -owners and men of position and influence are 
called Thakors, are generally well-to-do and observe purdah 
with their women. 

Kolis in Gujerat seldom resort to disguises. They are 

however adept in personating Rajputs, 

Disguises adopted and means Thakors, Bahroths ( bard s), and Pati- 

of identification. , , 1,1- r, 

dars, and their get-up is often 

excellent. They also occasionally adopt the role of Nanak- 
shahi Sadhus and Brahmins but the make-up is usually 
imperfect and their ignorance of religious ceremonials and 
requirements betrays them. When committing crime they 
discard the dhoti for the langoti and muffle their faces or some- 
times conceal them with bJnikas made of animal hair. 

In times of yore Kolis occupied a prominent place in the 
annals of crime. According to the 
Bombay Gazetteer, in 1825 Bishop 

Crime to which addicted. 


Heber found the Kolis one of the most turbulent and predatory 
tribes in India. In 1832 bands of Kolis from 50 to 200 strong 
and bent on plunder, infested the Kaira highroads. Ti 
showed signs of an inclination to revolt in 1857, but prompt 
measures were taken to punish the unruly and the country \\.-is 
saved from any widespread outbreak. Though brought to their 
bearings under British rule their hereditary love of plunder is 
by no means extinct. At the present day they are, as. a class, 
addicted to highway and house dacoity and robbery, house- 
breaking and thefts, cattle lifting, thefts of standing crops and 
field produce, mischief by fire, thefts from running goods 
trains on parts of the B. B. and C. I. and portions of the 
R. M. Railways, and acts of violence and bloodshed, in order 
to take revenge or terrorize. Some of the more lawless of the 
Kaira Kolis, especially the Patanvadiyas who inhabit the Borsad 
and Anand talukas and the adjoining portion of the Baroda 
Territory, have the reputation of being mercenary assassins. 

Among the Kolis ot Kathiawar and parts of Ahmedabad, 
the levying of black-mail for the restoration of lifted cattle is 
prevalent, while a few from some of the Gujerat Native States 
and Kathiawar have earned a notoriety as being given to 
committing theft after administering some stupefying drug. 

The illicit distillation of liquor, manufacture of salt and 
opium smuggling are minor forms of crime to which Kolis 
are given. 

Those of south Gujerat, except that they are addicted to 
minor offences against the liquor laws, are on the whole less 
criminal than those of other parts. 

The different divisions of Kolis have more or less identical 
methods of committing burglary, theft, 

Methods employed in com- , , . S S" J i l /- 

milling crime, and distinguish- robbery, daCOlty and Cattle lifting. 

lTord Ch r a cVu e e ristics Iikdy t0 For the commission of house-breaking 

the culprits depend a good deal on 

local friends for information, but as a rule, they visit and mark 
down, during the day, dwellings for themselves, their calling 
often facilitating their doing this unsuspected. Or, they prowl 
about at night and without any previous enquiry operate on 
some building which, owing to the loneliness of its situation or 
other special reason, proves attractive. If the master of a 
burgled house happens to have in his employ a Koli servant, 
this domestic will probably repay police attention, for some- 
times a Koli while in private employ, will supply his criminal 



friends with useful information respecting the premises, and 
afterwards keep them informed of the progress of police 
enquiries at the scene of the offence. 

As a preliminary to getting to work, they sally forth after 
night-fall and before the police are ordinarily out on night 
patrol and bide their time either in the houses of friends or 
lurking in deserted buildings or ruins, out-of-the-way temples 
or mosques. 

When the night has advanced and all is quiet, the party 
armed with sticks (often freshly cut) and the khatariyd, exhibit 
46 of the Bombay District Police Museum, vide Plate IV, 
approach the building. Arrived at the scene of offence, some 
post themselves as look-outs while others proceed to make a 
hole in a wall (usually a back wall it being considered unlucky 
to break in from the front) in the ' rumali ' fashion. Before 
passing in through the hole, the intruders insert a stick and 
move it cautiously to and fro to make sure that there is no one 
on the other side to give them a warm reception. One or 
two, occasionally three or four, enter, while a couple stand 
outside to receive the spoil. Of the former some ransack 
the house, the rest, armed with lathis and knives, watch the 
sleeping inmates. Should the latter be disturbed and show any 
inclination to raise an alarm, they are silenced by threats of 
violence and the display of weapons. With the exception of 
eatables and cooked food, they take all they can lay their 
hands on and depart, usually by door or window. 

In order to avoid leaving foot-prints outside the house, it is 
said that Kolis walk on tip-toe for some distance to and from 
the scene of the crime. If the house to be burgled happens 
to be situated in some village close to their own, they occa- 
sionally divest themselves of their superfluous clothing and 
shoes outside the former village and leave the articles in charge 
of a member of the party. 

The crime committed, they return to the place where their 
shoes etc. have been left, dress themselves, put on their shoes, 
and return home. Thus stealth during the commission of the 
crime is facilitated and tracking is rendered difficult. 

The hole made in the wall by the Koli burglar is generally 
a good size and his handiwork rough. Other modes of 
effecting an entry into a house are, by climbing up to a 
terrace or upper storey and lifting windows off their hinges ; 
by removing or forcing small windows ; or by breaking in 
through the roof. 


Organized dacoity in dwellings is not practised by Kolis, 
except perhaps by some of the more criminal from Palanpur, 
Radhanpur and Patan. 

Gujerat Kolis as a class have the hereditary instincts of 
highway dacoits and robbers. A gang usually lies in wait on 
some road at a convenient spot. The object of attack is 
frequently marked down at his last halting place and is 
followed by one of the gang who acquaints his comrades of the 
approach of the quarry. At a given signal those lying in wait 
rush out and commence the attack. The conveyance, if there 
is one, is stopped by some of the gang, while others assault 
the inmates and ransack the cart, relieving the occupants of 
any ornaments and valuables they have on their persons and 
perhaps too of bundles and metal utensils. Resistance on the 
part of the travellers is overcome by violence,; no compunction 
is shown even to females or children, and occasionally the 
raid ends in grievous hurt or even murder. 

Cattle lifting is effected in various ways : at night, by 
breaking into a cattle-shed : by driving off animals belonging to 
travellers and cartmen from halting places ; or, when carts are 
slowly moving along a road and the drivers are dozing in their 
seats, by quietly unyoking one of the bullocks and driving it 
away. It is not till the irregular movement of the cart suffici- 
ently rouses the driver that he wakes to his loss. 

Bullocks and buffaloes are chiefly prized ; sometimes 
camels and horses are stolen. Cows are not as a rule taken, 
except by Patanvadiyas ; sheep and goat lifting are not so 
common as cattle thefts. Lifted cattle are forthwith driven 
away to a considerable distance. It then becomes almost 
impossible for the owners to trace them, and the payment of 
black-mail is the quickest way of recovering the animals. 

Crop raids are usually committed at night, the culprits 
being armed with sticks and other weapons. If the night 
watchman raises an alarm and the neighbours come to his 
assistance, as likely as not a scuffle ensues and sometime^ 
ends in serious consequences, the crime developing into 
robbery, dacoity or perhaps something graver. 

Kolis, especially those of the Kaira District, are much 
addicted to looting goods trains. They are exceedingly daring 
in jumping on and off trains in motion. The experience 
gained as railway servants in shunting and loading yards, 
is turned to account in the commission of offrmvs on 

KOLIS. 105 

the railway. They mark down the vans of passenger trains 
at night, and if they get an opportunity, either gain entrance 
from the off side, or, if that is watched, they go a little 
distance up the line, jump on to the foot-board when the 
train is in motion and effect entrance through the door, if not 
locked, or by breaking into the van the rattle of the train 
smothers any noise that may be caused by forcible entry. 
After accomplishing their object the train is left either when it 
slackens speed to enter a station or when running up an 
incline. Goods trains are occasionally boarded by crouching 
on the buffers of the wagons while stationary. After the 
train has started the thieves climb on to open wagons 
and throw off bags of grain etc., which are picked up by 
confederates waiting for the purpose. The latter sometimes 
signal their presence to the men in the trains by lighting 

Trains running slowly up heavy gradients are boarded and 
left by these agile Kolis without any great difficulty or risk. 
Kolis are very vindictive and frequently resort to mischief by 
fire in order to pay off a grudge, or, by terrorizing, to attain 
some other object and they are not unfrequently employed by 
Patidars and Banias to inflict injury by arson on those with 
whom the latter have a feud. 

Near the borders of opium -producing Native States a few 
Kolis, it is said, go in for smuggling opium, which they conceal 
in their fields and dispose of later by retail. This practice is 
gradually sinking into disuse and at the present day it is 
believed that few Kolis indulge in it. 

Gangs organized for the commission of crime are usually 
made up of individuals from different villages rather than from 
one. In the event of any member of a criminal gang being 
killed in an expedition, information of the disaster is com- 
municated by throwing a spray of mm leaves on the roof 
of deceased's house. Thus his family is apprised of his 
death and silence is imposed on his relations. 

The Koli's favourite implement of house-breaking is the 

ganeshia or khdtariyd described in 

Stock-in trade, instruments the note on Va^hris. When commit- 

and weapons used in commit- . -.111 i 

ting crime. ting crime they usually carry a large 

country knife called churn, in a scab- 
bard, at the waist, a lathi or karlyali dh<iug (weighted stick), 


exhibit 26 of the Bombay District Police Museum, vide Plate I, 
and in some parts a dhdria (sharp bill-hook at the end of a 
bamboo), exhibit 31 of the Bombay District Police Museum, 
mde Plate I, a vdiisi (toothed bill-hook), exhibit 54 of the 
Bombay District Police Museum, vide Plate I, or a ktitor or 
katar'iya, exhibit 11 of the Bombay District Police Mu- 
seum, mde Plate I, a crescent-shaped weapon about three 
feet in length made of some hard wood occasionally strength- 
ened with leather bands. The last mentioned is thrown with 
a whirling motion after the manner of a boomerang and is 
effective up to about fifty yards. If skilfully hurled it will 
break a man's leg, bring down a buck, or kill small game. 
Bows and arrows and occasionally swords are also carried by 
Koli depredators. A burglar usually provides himself with 
a bunch of keys, a match box and a piece of candle as 

Immediately after the commission of a crime, stolen 

property is generally concealed by 

Ways and means of conceal Kolis in the open in fields, rubbish 

ing or disposing ot stolen , i fi i < 

property. heaps, underneath stacks or grass, in 

.hollows in the trunks of trees, perhaps 

under water in some well or pool and sometimes in their 
houses under fire-places, in hollow bamboos, in roof rafters, 
cattle-sheds or in holes, in the side walls near doors, made to 
take cross bars. 

When enquiry has languished and the coast is, so to 
speak, clear, the property is removed from hiding, perhaps 
melted and disposed of through goldsmiths, Patidars, Girasias, 
Banias, Bohras, Memon hawkers, or blacksmiths and pretty 
frequently village officers are not free from the suspicion of 
sharing the spoils. 

Stolen cloth is sometimes sewn into patchwork quilts or 
disposed of to local Banias. If no purchaser is forthcoming 
it is burnt, gold and silver borders injured by the fire being 
given away. Stolen cattle are sometimes kept out of the way 
at some secluded spot till the owner, personally, or through a 
middleman, offers money by way of ransom, say half the price 
of the cattle, in which case, after payment of the sum agreed 
upon, the animals are left at some place indicated to the owner 
or his friend, where they are 'found.' If black-mail is not 
forthcoming, the cattle are sold at distant markets. If there 
is reason to believe that the owner is not likely to come to 
terms, they are sold to butchers. 

KOLIS. 107 

Stolen sheep and goats are killed and consumed. 

For the conveyance of valuable loot from a distance to 
their homes, the services of a respectable looking Patidar, 
Girasia or Bania accomplice are sometimes utilized. 

Stolen horses and camels are despatched if possible to the 
Thar and Parkar Distriqt for disposal. 


Mangs are known in the Carnatic as Madars or Madigru 
and in Gujerat as^s or Manjjvlas. 

N.inu- of criminal tribe T"i 4._*u J' 'J i ' \ \ 

or class. * ne tn " e 1S divided into a number of 

sub-divisions, the principal of which 

Nuda or Khotra. 


Rakwaldar, known in parts as Ghatoli. 



Mochi, etc. 

From time immemorial Mangs have occupied a prominent 
__ ,. place among the tribes with criminal 

Habitat. F . . & . . . 

instincts inhabiting the Ueccan dis- 
tricts and the districts and states comprising the Southern 
Manitha Country. In both areas nearly every village has its 
quota of Mangs. In some districts they are not so trouble- 
some as in others, for instance in Belgaum, Bijapur and 
Dharwar they are not the source of anxiety to the police that 
they are in Poona, Satara and Kolhapur. 

Mangs are local criminals pure and simple. They rarely 
commit crime in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of their own homes or beyond 
a radius of thirty miles or so from their 
villages. The field of their operations is confined to neigh- 
bouring talukas or districts. There is, however, an instance 
on record of Mangs from the Sholapur District having com- 
mitted a dacoity in the Kolhapur State, a hundred miles or 
so away, but such instances are uncommon. 

With the exception of ! Dakelwars ' who are wanderers, 
Mangs are all settled and do not roam about the country 
in gangs. 

Numerically the Mang is strong, as will be seen from the 
appended table taken from the census 
returns, shown,, the Ma,,j popuktion 
in the Bombay Presidency : 

Mangs belonging to the Satara District. 


Males. Females. 

Ahmedabad ... ... 2 

Thana ... ... 232 184 

Jawhar State ... ... 9 I 

Ahmednagar ... ... 10,582 10,622 

Khandesh ... ... 6,532 6,359 

Nasik 3,9o 4,198 

Poona 10,077 IT >573 

Satara ... I3.37 6 I 3, lo $ 

Sholapur ... 14,213 14^43 

Akalkot 894 821 

Bhor ... ... 259 224 

Khandesh Agency ... 6 7 

Satara Agency ... 1,385 1,363 

Belgaum ... ... 10,896 11,348 

Bijapur ... ... 15,040 15,468 

Dharwar i9.55 1 9> I2 5 

Kanara ... ... 49 54 

Kolaba ... ... 302 307 

Ratnagiri ... ... 20 7 

Janjira ... ... 12 13 

Kolhapur ... ... 8,580 8,341 

Southern Manitha Country ... 8,748 9,031 



Mangs as a race are hardy, intemperate, cruel, passionate 

drest and revengeful. In physique they are 

well built, athletic, and vary between 

the sturdy heavy and the wiry active types. All are endowed 
with powers of great endurance. Their features are coarse 
and dark with a somewhat fierce expression. They are dirty 
livers and feeders. 

In villages they live apart in a quarter known as the 
' Mangwada ' or ' Madargeri/ separate even from the 
Mahars. They are much given to drink, tobacco and ganja 

Mangs like Ramoshis swear by the ' Bel Bhandar.' 

As a class they are troublesome and addicted to serious 
crimes according as they preponderate in a given area 
over other criminal classes such as Kaikadis, Ramoshis, 
Berads, etc. 

Mangs, however, will not steal from Mangs. 

There are two kinds of leaders among the class : (i) Desh- 
mehtrias and (2) Surnaiks. The former are religious and 
social heads, the latter leaders in crime. 


In dress and appearance Mangs, male and female, are 
very like others of the depressed classes. There is no 
characteristic difference, yet a practised eye can at once 
distinguish a Mang. 

The women are dark and plain. They tie their hair in a 
knot, often without the aid of a piece of silk, cotton or woollen 
thread. Their hands and arms are profusely tattooed, the 
figures of a cypress, scorpion and snake being preferred. A 
mark thus FIT will often be found tattooed on all fingers of the 
right hand except the thumb and a sun-flower on the back of 
the same hand. They wear the sari full without drawing it up 
between the legs, a choli (bodice) with short sleeves and 
back, and brass or zinc ornaments. 

The costume of the men consists of a dirty dhotar, ragged 
pagri, a jacket or pairan and shoulder-cloth. Barbers will not 
shave them, so they have to depend on each other for a 
shave and this enhances their general dirty and unkempt 

Mangs always speak the language of the district in which 
they reside. Their accent and intona- 
tion > however, is faulty. Those who 
speak Marathi do not pronounce 
nasals properly and cannot correctly sound two consonants 
joined by a single vowel. Their speech is, as might be 
expected, rough and coarse. 

The following are some of their slang expressions col- 
01 lected from different parts of the Pre- 

Slang used. . . 

sidency : 

Slang. Meaning. 

tikari hikavito or tikria nemito . abuses. 

hidka-hidki ... affray. 

hiduk ... beat. 

kor or lipda ... blanket. 

regal, parad or tinkan ... Brahmin. 

kudtul ... box. 

dhadal ... to break. 

khadal ... to break upon. 

karpati . . . bread. 

yedul, nakya ... bullock. 

varavala ... came. 

kuni ... some one will come. 

dandal, pedla ... came to search. 

kudapal .. cart. 

gagaru, gangal . . . Chamar. 


I I I 





kapadul, lipda 





nayal, jhukail 

aploo aploo shega 

pedam, bhoora 

dutiv or dutav 

kiwanya, kijva 




tankula, yelach, ohili 

nekle, gorin, nemani 


halak, halaw, or halwa 

thokade, chunkha 



kobal, kolkal 

dubak, phukni 


kuram or kurma 

kud, kudcha 

karka or korka 

nali, khavdi 


tika mangla bhanpa 


beya or boya 


chilad or chiliad 

chanapto, kanivto 

sobada, sombala 


aril, godga dandal 

pena, ghatar, bhukar 

kharape, damula, or rokda 


oon or una 

zimak, zumuk, zumain 

ray a 



zukil, zukir, moongshi 



to clear away. 

clear away, start or go. 




dacoity with murder. 

dacoity with grievous 


distribute property. 

a European. 









gold or stolen property. 











kadbi stack. 

to keep a watch. 









Mali a r. 

money or cash. 


moonlight (night). 







Slang. Meaning, 

puyal . . . poor, 

matu, shega, yarn;! ... robbery, 

boyala . . . ramoshi or watchman, 

nirtakale ... river, 

tad . . . rope, string, 

hurkat, peda, hushkada ... runaway, 

kingalvala, dhulkia ... scavenger, 

yemul ... she-buffaloe. 

goril ... sheep, 

tikane ... to sit. 

tolakla, tolakawla ... slept, 

nilingi, kodpan, nilganti ... stick, 

apal, vapal ... stone, 

godala, goeda . . . sugarcane or coarse 


kadul, katnul, dharali ... sword or weapon, 

seg, sed * ... to take, 

chavare ... teeth, 

nakarvama, nakawala ... teli (oil-seller), 

mooch, nali . . . theft, 

nir . . . water, 

adatule ... wife or woman, 

fiirman ... term used by Mangs 

when greeting one 

Mangs are frequently employed as watchmen and those 

who are hereditary village servants 

ib nhTd" ( hold lands and cultivate them. In the 

village constitution Mangs are the 

scavengers, songsters and musicians. Some keep leeches 
for bleeding purposes while others geld cattle. Numbers make 
hide and hempen ropes, slings, shinkds (net bags), brooms, 
and work in tanneries. Among Mangs are also to be found 
shoe-makers and workers in leather. It is a Mang who 
actually carries out the extreme penalty of the law. 

As a class they are poor but well nourished as they will 
eat everything and anything even the carcasses of animals 
that die in the village. 

The Dakelwar Mang is the bard of the tribe. He is not 
a criminal but lives by begging solely from Mangs. 

Mangs do not go in systematically for disguises but 
occasionally individuals make them- 
< selves up as Gosavis and thus dis- 
guised, prospect houses, etc. During 

MANGS. 113 

the actual commission of crime, to avoid identification, they 
cover the lower part of their faces, or smear them with ashes 
or soot and sometimes tie a kambli (blanket) over the head 
fastening it off round the waist. 

Mangs of the Deccan are the most dangerous and trouble- 
some of all. Those in the Carnatic 

Crime to which addicted. 111 i i 

and elsewhere are more law-abiding 

and less an anxiety to the police. The former go in chiefly 
for gang robbery, dacoity, burglary, cattle lifting and poisoning, 
thefts of all kinds and cheating by passing off spurious 
ornaments as genuine. They are expert night thieves and 
house-breakers. They are also fond of decoying 'receivers' 
with money into lonely places in the open country to do a deal, 
then, turning on them they either rob them of the cash 
brought for the purpose or secure the cash by some ruse. 

In the Satara District, Mangs bearing surnames of ' Bhishi ' 
and ' Sonawle ' are reputed the most criminal. 

In the Carnatic, Madars are addicted chiefly to the com- 
mission of petty thefts and cattle-poisoning. When they 
commit the latter it is with one of two objects, either revenge 
because some hak (due) has been refused by an agriculturist, 
or when times are hard for the hide which is, in some 
villages, by custom and usage, their right, and the carcass 
which they eat. 

In the Deccan the differences existing between Mangs and 
Mahars in respect to the performance of customary rites on 
religious and sacrificial occasions, not infrequently give rise to 
serious quarrels, rioting and bloodshed. 

The women, as a rule, do not assist the men in their 
criminal activities, but instances are known in which they have 
accompanied dacoit gangs, probably to cook for them. 

Among other means of obtaining information regarding 
houses to be looted or burgled, the 

Methods employed in com- , , , , r , 11-1 

mitting crime and distinguish- Mangs profession of selling brooms 
ing characteristics likely to anc j rO p e s enables them to spy out the 

land and acquire valuable knowledge. 

Information is also occasionally secured through Mangs or 
bad characters living in the village to be attacked or from 
some enemy of the owner of the house to be looted. In such 
cases the informer gets a share of the ' loot.' For the rest, 
advantage is taken of favourable opportunities, such as 


domestic, religious or social festivities attended by a display 
of jewellery and valuables. 

When planning a dacoity the pros and cons are first care- 
fully discussed, the design being carried into execution on the 
first favourable dark night. Dacoities are committed by gangs 
of ten to twenty led by the ' surnaik ' or a deputy appointed by 
him. Every gang is collected and organized by some one 
who is styled ' naik ' or ' surnaik.' He is elected by vote 
on his merits as a robber, his intellectual capacities, his 
influence with the village authorities and prominent land-owners, 
his readiness in speech and his capabilities as a leader. Thus 
elected he takes command of or directs all criminal expeditions 
and receives a share of the spoil whether he accompanies the 
expedition or not ; but should he lead an expedition, he receives 
an extra share. 

All arrangements as to meeting, proceeding to the village 
to be attacked, and details of the attack are arranged before- 
hand either in the ' surnaik's ' house or some other suitable 
place. Liquor is indulged in and a consultation is held, when 
instructions are issued by the leader to each member as to the 
part he is to take. 

At the appointed time the gang assembles in any broken 
ground that may afford shelter from observation in the vicinity 
of the spot which has been selected as the scene of action. 
Here shoes and superfluous clothing are left, sometimes in 
charge of one of the gang. A supply of stones, which are 
deposited in several heaps near the house to be attacked, 
is taken and these are used as missiles against counter- 

Mangs are capable of slinging stones with great force and 
accuracy and rely on their skill in this respect when attacked 
or pursued. 

In house dacoity, the village is either rushed, the dacoits 
carrying torches, letting off fire-arms if they have any, or 
potash bombs, pelting stones promiscuously, warning the 
inhabitants not to come out of their houses and generally 
creating a great noise while they make for the house to be 
attacked ; or, the village is stealthily entered, the gang going 
quietly to the doomed house. In the latter event one of the 
gang will first try to gain peaceable admission by some 
plausible story ; if he fails, the door of the house is forced with 
a hatchet and walls are scaled occasionally with the aid of a 

MANGS. I 15 

rough ladder or climbing pole. Some of the gang enter the 
house, the rest remain outside and cover the approaches to the 

Entrance having been effected, torches are lit and the 
inmates are sought out and forced by threats of violence to 
show where money and jewellery may be hidden. In some 
instances the dacoits use Kaikadi or Hindustani words among 
themselves to divert suspicion. 

Mangs if in a tight corner stop short at nothing to secure 
their escape or to resist capture. 

The plunderers, if unmolested, abstain from personal 
violence, but refusal to point out valuables meets with ill- 
treatment. Should there be any difficulty in detaching an 
ornament, a Mang will not hesitate to tear it out of nose or 
ear, even of married women, otherwise they rarely offer violence 
to females. 

The ' surnaik ' moves about supervising and encouraging 
the rest of the gang and seeing they carry out the duties 
allotted to them properly. Having ransacked the house and 
secured all there is to be had, the ' naik ' gives the word ' chalo,' 
' peda ' or ' nibla,' which is the signal to decamp. On this 
the gang beats an orderly retreat, slinging stones till clear of 
the village, thence the dacoits proceed with expedition to the 
rendezvous where the shoes and clothes were left. In order 
to mislead enquiry they occasionally drop some articles dis- 
tinctive of other castes, and to baffle pursuit return by devious 

Stolen property usually remains with the member of the 
gang who secured it till he is required to disgorge what he has 
got, later. 

Either at the rendezvous described above or two or three 
miles from the scene of the crime, a halt is called by the ' naik ' 
and the property is pooled and distributed, the ' naik ' satisfying 
himself that all has been given up. Over the distribution of 
property quarrelling often takes place owing to the dishonesty 
which prevails at the division of plunder and the distrust 
Mangs entertain for one another when it comes to sharing 
the spoil. 

A village dacoity is not necessarily confined to one house, 
occasionally as many as three buildings are attacked at a 


Highway robberies and road dacoities are generally com- 
mitted about sunset, or soon after, on carts or tongas by 
gangs numbering from four to ten. The weapons carried on such 
occasions are sticks and axes. Two of the men squat on the 
road quietly chewing betelnut or otherwise engaged, the 
remainder being concealed in some convenient hiding place 
near at hand. As the conveyance approaches the men sitting 
on the road jump up suddenly and stop the bullocks or ponies, 
while the remainder rush out from their place of hiding, pull 
the driver off his seat, secure him and then proceed to rob 
the occupants. All is so rapidly accomplished that the per- 
petrators are seldom identified. Occasionally the victims are 
left tied to the conveyance or a tree to prevent their carrying 
early information. 


The Mang is a burglar of superior attainments. The 
4 bagli' method of breaking into a house is favoured by him. 
One or two enter the house while others keep watch and are 
at hand outside. In tracts where houses have flat mud roofs 
Mangs are said to be careful, when effecting entrance through 
a hole in the roof of a house, to prevent any of the earth 
falling into the room below lest some one inside should be 
aroused. This they do, as the hole increases in size, by 
carefully scraping the earth, as it is loosened, to one side. 
Once inside the house, the Mang proceeds to business in a 
calculating manner. He will use any lamp or wick he may 
find in the house to light his way about and, if any of the 
inmates are lying with bed clothes tossed aside, the considerate 
Mang will gently replace them, carefully enveloping the 
sleeper's head. Those inside the house and their confederates 
outside, work together admirably, the latter covering the work 
of the former, receiving whatever is handed out and giving the 
alarm if necessary. Among some Mang burglars it is the 
practice for the confederate outside to keep up a quiet and 
regular tapping, by flicking the first finger from the thumb on 
window or door, all the while those inside are at work and the 
coast is clear. The cessation of this ' all well ' signal from 
outside signifies danger to those inside. 

Mangs are credited with a disinclination to commit crime 
on the day set apart for the worship of the family deity and, 
as a rule, they do not commit ordinary thefts or burglaries in 
the day-time. They have no scruples about admitting or 
joining other castes in a criminal venture, for instance, 

MAiNGS. I i 7 

Mahars, Mangs and a Lingayat Jangum have been known to 
form a gang and commit a dacoity. 

A Mang criminal who confesses, will not, as a rule, pro- 
duce all the stolen property in his possession but only a portion 
of it. 

Defrauding ' receivers ' is accomplished by the sudden arrival 
of a confederate in the role of a police officer while the deal is 
in progress ; an alarm is raised and the Mangs decamp with 
ornaments and cash in one direction while the victim makes 
off in another ; or, the bogus police officer intercepts the 
' receiver ' while wending his way home and relieves him of the 

Their favourite instrument for burglary is called a khantoda. 

It is made of iron, about a foot in 

stock-in-trade, instruments length and chisel-shaped at one end. 

and weapons used in com- , , . . , ,. . 

mitting crime. In dacoities they carry slings and 

stones, sticks, torches, an axe, probably 

knives or daggers, swords and fire-arms if obtainable, and 
explosive potash bombs. The lathi usually carried by a Mang 
reaches up to about the shoulder. It is said that in some 
parts Mangs generally grasp a lathi or stick by the thicker 
end, Ramoshis by the thinner, and though there may be 
some foundation for the statement it would probably not always 
be safe to draw conclusions from the alleged peculiarity. 

It is also reported that the ladder or climbing pole used by 
Kaikadis and described in the note on that class, is occasionally 
used by Mangs to gain access to the roof of a house or to 
assist in scaling walls. 

When embarking on a dacoity some distance from their 
homes, instead of taking sticks with them when they start, 
Mangs, to evade suspicion, often prefer to provide themselves 
with cudgels en route. 

If the plunder consists of cash, the ' surnaik's ' share is 

first allotted and the balance is then 

Ways and means of con- divided into as many shares as there 

cealme or disposing or stolen , . J , , , 

property. are members in the gang and each then 

takes his share. Thus the ' surnaik,' 

if he has participated in the crime, comes in for two shares. 
In some gangs the ' naik ' keeps what he himself secures 
during the commission of the crime and in addition receives 
one share from the rest of the ' loot.' 


The less experienced of the gang are given cash as tlu-ir 
share of the plunder lest they should, if arrested by the police, 
be prevailed on to produce property, or by clumsiness in dis- 
posing of it, afford a clue and bring the entire gang into 

Their methods of concealing and disposing of stolen goods 
are similar to those of Ramoshis, Kaikadis, Berads and the 
like. They bury ' loot ' till police enquiry has languished when 
it is unearthed and disposed of to goldsmiths, sir^^h-s, 
Marwadis, liquor-vendors, bangle-sellers or other villagers and 
usually where the culprits have some relative or connection. 
Property is, as a rule, disposed of intact. 


Mang-garudis must not be confused with either Mangs 
or Garudis. They have nothing in 

Name o f r < tribL i . nal daSS common with the latter and are 
socially inferior to the former who 
refuse to dine or smoke the chilam with Mang-garudis. 

In the Deccan and Konkan the women are known among 
the villagers as Kath-kadnis owing to their dirty uncouth 

Mang-garudis are distinct too from ' Gopals/ wandering 
gymnasts, for whom they are apt to be mistaken. 

They are a poor roving class having no fixed dwellings. 
They wander from place to place and 

Habitat. J . e 111 , TA 

are to be found throughout the Presi- 
dency. They are also met with in the Central Provinces, 
Berars and parts of His Highness the Nizam's Territory. 

Mang-garudis are a gipsy tribe and as a rule do not 
peregrinate over a very extensive area, 
gangs confining themselves more or 
less to a particular beat. They do 
not go long distances in pursuit of crime, but confine 
their operations to the neghbourhood of their encampments. 
An instance is however on record of a single individual having 
been caught picking pockets in a bazar forty miles from 
the encampment. 

On promising information a party will occasionally travel 
as far as twenty miles in a night to commit crime. 

The Bombay Presidency census returns of 1901 show no 
Mang-garudis, from which it would 
appear that members of this tribe have 
been returned as Mangs or Garudis 

or among the ( Unspecified.' The tribe is apparently not a 

very numerous one. 

The men are of medium height, strong, active and wiry ; 
lazy and averse to hard work. Their 

Appearance, dress, etc. J ... 

costume consists or a short dhotar 

(pancha) or tangpti according to choice, a bandi (jacket) or 
atigarkha, an old turban carelessly tied and a shoulder-cloth, 


all of coarse cloth. Some wear a cotton kdclin or waist-band. 
The well-to-do wear shoes. The women dress themselves in 
the sari and choli after the manner of the depressed classes 
of the Deccan, the former short and untidy. When begging 
in villages they improvise out of some old cloth z.jholi or bag 
which is suspended from the left shoulder and into this they 
stow whatever they get. Beads, coloured or black according 
to fancy, are also worn. They apply knnku only when 
actually being married and on important festivals. Their 
bangles are made of lead and ear-rings of brass. Nose-rings 
and anklets are not usually worn. Boys sometimes wear brass 
chains round the neck, sometimes coloured cotton thread neck- 
laces. Both among men and women no trouble is taken with 
the hair; it is seemingly never combed, is short and always 
dishevelled. Both sexes are extremely dirty in their persons 
and clothing and most offensive to go near. They are also 
notoriously quarrelsome. 

They peregrinate from village to village, avoiding police 
posts, with their families, dogs, ponies and cattle, encamping, 
as a rule, a long way from, but within reach of, some bazar or 
good -sized village. Barren she-buffaloes are the means of 
their transport, portable grass huts (jhopdds) their dwellings. 

One of the gang usually acts as spokesman and conducts 
business with outsiders. 

The men are great drunkards and eat every kind of flesh 
except that of horses and donkeys. 

Here and there an individual is to be met with who has 
given up wandering and has settled as a cultivator living in a 
farm-house on his field. 

The Mang-garudis speak corrupt 

Dialect and peculiarities * -i.u' *.!. r /- x' 

of speech. Maratni without any trace or Gujerati 

origin, if any. 

The following are some of the slang expressions used 
Slan used by Mang-garudis in the Central Pro- 

vinces : 

Slang. Meaning. 

yelgu ... ... policeman. 

kawrie ... ... thdt. 

lipata or latta ... ... stolen cloth. 

laf ... ... money. 

damrie ... ... rupee. 

kapulun ... ... runaway. 


Slang. Meaning, 

jakia ... ... dog. 

zumani ... ... Musalman. 

nakora ... ... bullock. 

zamaisi ... ... buffaloe. 

sendee ... .. girl. 

sonda ... ... boy. 

ketmi ... ... mother. 

tiponi nako ... ... do not tell. 

yelgu vairla kurhyar tala . . . look out, a policeman is coining . 

lipata kapurla tugaj . . . there is some property, steal it . 

In the Dec can. 

asra ... ... ten. 

suti ... ... twenty. 

kapsuti ... ... twenty-five. 

karpati ... ... bread. 

khamosa .. ... money. 

lipda ... ... cloth. 

zukail ... ... dog. 

zumani ... ... Musalman. 

nakoda ... ... bullock. 

irmachi ... ... buffaloe. 

khariola ... ... came. 

ghanala ... ... pot, vessel. 

thamnia . ... ... Brahmin. 

dandal or natia ... . Kunbi or Maratha. 

kud ... ... house. 

kurma ... ... horse. 

markal . . ... goat. 

niroma ... ... water. 

ripai ... ... policeman. 

rozdar ... ... chief constable. 

kiwa ... ... gold. 

khapad, pehed . . . run away, 

pangti ... ... fowl. 

kobal ... ... grain. 

gavna ... ... shoe. 

khoyra ... ... ramoshi. 

bhukria ... ... Mahar. 

chimgia ... ... Mang. 

khapa ... ... rupee. 

Mang-garudis never do a hard day's work. Begging, 
performing childish conjuring tricks 

Ostensible means, before villagerSj trading in barren half- 
starved buffaloes and buffaloe calves, 

sometimes in country ponies, are their ostensible means of 
subsistence. They also purchase from Gowlis barren buffaloes 
which they profess to be able to make fertile, returning 


them when pregnant for double the purchase money and they 
shave buffaloes for villagers. 

A very few have settled and taken to cultivation. They 
do not go in for snake charming. The women sell firewood, 
grass etc., and wander from door to door begging and chant- 
ing. They are immoral. 

Mang-garudis adopt no special disguises, but when com- 
mitting crimes of violence, like other 

)isgU Sye d n ttfon dm criminals, to avoid identification they 

muffle their faces. They however 
frequently change their names. 

Men, women and children are habitual thieves and pilferers. 
They specially go in for stealing 

Cnme to which addicted. -1^1 i r j 

agricultural produce from, and grazing 

their animals in, ryots' fields ; remonstrance is met with abuse 
and often violence. The women steal in the day and the men 
at night, the former being very clever at pilfering clothes put 
out to dry, picking pockets in bazars, sneaking fowls, shoes 
etc., etc. 

The men of this tribe are cattle poisoners and confirmed 
cattle lifters ; buffaloes being of most use to them are their 
chief prey. Lifting smaller livestock such as goats, sheep 
and fow r ls are common crimes with them and villagers are, as 
a rule, unwilling to approach their encampments to recover 
their property. 

During harvest time they are much given to stealing grain 
and cotton. They will occasionally go in for burglary and even 
highway robbery and dacoity. Recently they have taken to 
thieving on the railway. 

Defrauding owners of their barren she-buffaloes under the 
pretext of making them fertile, carrying them off with some 
earnest money for the promised service and subsequently 
selling them at a distance, is a favourite mode of cheating 
practised by Mang-garudis. Other forms of cheating are the 
sale of false ornaments as genuine and decoying and swindling 
or robbing ' receivers.' 

A gang will sometimes number as many as eighty or even 
more persons, and it is idle to suppose 

Methods employed in com- , , 

muting crime and distinguish- that so large an encampment can 

L n fford C a a due eriStiCS "^ ' maintain itself and its HUmerOUS live- 

stock without continually depredating 
the surrounding country. 


Not infrequently only boys and women with children at 
their breasts, will be found at the encampment and when 
the latter are asked where the male members are, they unblush- 
ingly say there are none. 

They have a wholesome dread of being dealt with under 
Chapter VIII, Criminal Procedure Code. 

When committing highway robbery they picket the road to 
be exploited in small groups a mile or two apart and way- 
lay carts and passengers as these come from either direction. 

They lift buffaloes left out to graze, drive off village cattle 
with their own and adroitly alter the appearance of stolen 
animals by trimming their horns and branding so as to render 
recognition by the rightful owners difficult or impossible. 

They rob ' receivers ' by inviting them to purchase stolen 
goods at some out-of-the-way place and when there, relieve 
them of the cash brought for the purchase of the property. 

Stealing goats and sheep is a favourite occupation with 
them. They either carry them off alive from their pens at 
night or kill them whilst out grazing. This latter is done in 
the following manner. Having marked down a sheep or a 
goat grazing some way apart on the outskirts of the flock, the 
thief awaits his opportunity till the shepherd's back is turned 
when the animal is quietly and quickly seized and its neck 
broken by a sudden and powerful twist ; the body is then thrown 
into a bush or into some dip in the ground and the offender 
slips away. When the shepherd is well out of sight^the thief 
returns and removes the carcass to his encampment. The 
skin, horns, etc., are immediately disposed of so as to avoid 

Women are employed to visit villages and towns under the 
pretext of begging, there to mark houses and make mental 
notes of means of ingress etc., with a view to carrying 
information to the males. They will also enter houses freely 
when begging if there is nobody about and lift whatever 
comes to hand. They go off in parties of four or five to 
the various neighbouring bazars where they proceed to beg 
or steal as opportunity offers. They steal either from houses 
they find have been left empty for the time being, or else 
in the open bazar. Their method in the bazar is as follows. 
They see some one put down a bundle and watch until his 
attention is attracted elsewhere. They then walk up quietly, 
get between the individual and his property, and rapidly 
transfer the bundle or bag to their basket, which generally 


contains some old clothes, and make off as quickly as 
possible. If they think they are likely to be seen they 
first cover the bundle with their clothes and then remove it. 
These thefts are only committed by the women of the gang 
and their education begins when they are able to walk. 

Mang-garudis if caught red-handed, repudiate connection 
with any particular gang. Conversely a gang will never own 
up to any connection with any Mang-garudi who has been 
unfortunate enough to be caught. 

If the gang has met with any marked success and obtained 
a large haul anywhere, the deity is propitiated. 

The men openly visit surrounding villages and behave 
quietly, perform some little tamdsha to obtain alms, but always 
keep their eyes and ears open with a view to getting informa- 
tion likely to help them to the commission of crime. 

Sticks and slings are their favourite weapons. Occasionally 
hatchets are made use of for breaking 

Stock-in-trade instruments open d oors anc j a khailtoda (ail iron 
and weapons used in commit- . * Nf .. .. . v ,, 

ting crime. jemmy) tor making holes in walls. 

They have been known to carry kuclila 

(strychnia) and dhatura possibly for poisoning, perhaps for 
the treatment of barren buffaloes. 

Stolen property such as cash, jewels and clothes, should 
it have been some time in their posses- 
Ways and means of con- s i O n. is concealed about the persons 

cealing or disposing of stolen f . . . ,, 

property. ot men and women or in the saddle- 

bags of their buffaloes. When search- 
ing individuals, the rectum of males and the private parts 
of women should invariably be examined as instances are known 
of property having been concealed in these parts. Plunder 
freshly acquired is buried in the neighbourhood of the encamp- 
ment often near or under the place where their cattle are 
tethered. Liquor- vendors are almost always their ' receivers.' 
A favourite place for hiding stolen grain and cotton is in kadbce 
stacks in the immediate vicinity of the encampment. 

Stolen property, if field produce, is usually sold at once to 
some one at a distance from the scene of the crime or 
deposited with Kunbis and pdtils in league with the gan^. 
The women will sometimes conceal small quantities of grain 
in cloth belts about their waists and if a suspected woman 
appears to be pregnant a search may be desirable and pro- 
ductive of useful results. 


Valuable booty is occasionally passed on to some friendly 
gang in an adjoining district or province. Sympathetic pAtils 
and blacksmiths are also employed to dispose of stolen pro- 

The women are expert spies for the men and when the 
police have to deal with a gang, the men are apt to be 
truculent and the women become very boisterous, violent and 
troublesome and create scenes. To hamper and embarrass 
the police they will stick at nothing even in injuring themselves 
and their children to create a diversion, assaulting the police 
and making false accusations of all kinds. A common trick 
is to seize a child by the legs and swing it round at arm's 
length threatening to dash it to the ground unless the police 
clear out. Another is for the women to lift their saris or even 
divest themselves of their clothing and stand up naked in order 
to shame the police into making off and leaving them alone. 

If stolen property is found in a search, the women to 
save the men will not infrequently admit the crime. 

Property pilfered by women is usually kept by the family ; 
money dishonestly obtained is spent on drink for the gang. 

Stolen articles of clothing are sometimes exchanged at 
Kalals' (liquor-vendors') shops for liquor or sewn into patch- 
work quilts (godhdis) or saddle-bags and sold later as oppor- 
tunity offers. 


Mianas should on no account be mistaken for ( Minas,' the 
professional burglars of Northern India. 

Name o^ 1 class The following are some of the principal 

sub-divisions or clans of this class : 

Sumeja. Wagher. 

MAr. Kajardia. 

Jam. Ladhani. 

Saintani. Paredi. 

Baidani. Manek. 

Khattia or Katia. Mulla. 

Bhati. Jamani. 

Sakhaya. Malek. 

Sandhwani. Sama. 

Malani. Gandh. 

Zeda. Dhara. 

Mianas are found chiefly in Kathiawad and Cutch. In the 
former they are mostly confined to 
their adopted home, the State of Malia 

and especially to the villages of Malia, Kajarda, Chikli, 
Nawagaon along the coast of Jamnagar State. A few fami- 
lies are said to reside in Palanpur and Patipipalia under 
Dhandhuka in the Ahmedabad District. 

In Sind they are represented sparsely by more or less 
temporary immigrants. 

When not engaged in looking after their crops the Malia 
State Mianas have been accustomed 
an - to making long journeys to Sind, Cutch , 
Radhanpur and Palanpur in Northern 
Gujerat as also into the Ahmedabad District and all over 
Kathiawad. When hunted, after committing dacoities, they 
have been known to go in small numbers to Multan, with which 
place they are connected through a />//- whose remains were 
originally buried just outside Malia but were subsequently 
removed to Multan. Their wanderings have, however, been 
greatly circumscribed by the introduction, in 1904, of certain 

MIANAS. 127 

Mianas will commit a dacoity at a distance of forty to sixty 
miles from their dangas or homes getting back before day-light, 
and instances are on record of Miana raids from Kathiawad 
into the Ahmedabad District, a hundred miles or so away. 

The tribe is a settled one, not wandering or migratory. 
A gross population of over 10,000 represents the Miana 
Population according to last strength, which is distributed as 

census, and distribution. under : 

Males. Females. 

Cutch ... ... 2,816 3,062 

Kathiawad ... ... 2,292 2,400 

Palanpur ... ... 12 12 


y --- ' 


Mianas, originally Hindus, were converted many years 
ago to Islam. In appearance they 

Appearance, dress, etc. , 11,1 <-.- U J 

closely resemble the bindhis and are a 

handsome virile-looking race. They are above the average in 
height with wavy long hair, well-kept bushy beards and clear- 
cut aquiline features, keen eyes, very white teeth and swarthy 
skin. They are fond of riding and sport, are intelligent, 
active, untiring, courageous, but withal treacherous. 

Their women are known for their good looks and bad 

The men dress in tight trousers and angarkha, pasabaudi, 
or short coat and always tie a cloth (pichodi}, generally of a 
khaki or dark colour, round their loins trie ends falling on each 
side of the leg over the trousers. The head-dress consists of 
a turban of various colours tied in a circular fashion after the 
Morvi pattern ; a red or khaki skull cap or a handkerchief is 
frequently worn under or in lieu of the pagri. Occasionally a 
scarf is thrown over the shoulders. 

Cutchi Mianas leave one end of the turban loose, in other 
respects their dress is similar to that of the Malia Miana. 

Though Mahomedans holding certain pirs in esteem, their 
mode of life is akin to that of Rajputs. 

From the subjoined story taken from the ' Rasmala ' 
something of the character of the Miana may be gleaned : 

"One day while an Arab of the Gaikwar's army was at his 
prayers, a MiAna' passed by and enquired of him who he was afraid 


of that he bent his head that way. The Arab replied that he feared 
no one but God. ' Oh ! then,' said the Miana, ' come along with me 
to Malia ; we don't fear even God there.' " 

The Miana's fondness for joking is a distinct characteristic 
of his nature and he is of a merry disposition as the following 
translation of a stipulation (taken from a foot-note in the 
Bombay Gazetteer) which they made out and signed in good 
faith, though no doubt laughing up their sleeves all the time, 
will illustrate : 

"The Holi being a Hindu festival in the excitement of which 
we have no right to participate, we promise not to indulge for the 
future in our habit of committing burglaries at that season. We 
promise also to give up hanging about the town gates at morn and 
eve and annoying female passers-by with our remarks. Malia and 
Kajarda shall no longer continue to be seminaries for the propaga- 
tion of our customs. We admit that it is very wrong to make 
holes in the fort walls for our easier exits. We will not again so 

They are apparently incapable of abiding by any bond or 

Mianas under British administration are compelled to live 
in towns and villages. Some are allowed to live in grass huts, 
which they call vandh, in their fields. Formerly a vandh was 
a fairly large encampment of Mianas, now the term is applied 
to Miana huts in fields. 

Mianas amongst themselves speak ' Karo Kajadi ' or 
' Kuro Kuro,' a mixture of Cutchi 

and Sindhi - The y can also converse 
in Gujerati and Hindustani. When 
attempting to speak another language they frequently betray 
themselves by saying ' me chio,' meaning ' I say.' 

Malia Mianas talk roughly. When angry they are fond of 
using an abusive term ' dhyd ' or f gadddia.' 

A few accept employ in the Agency or State police, some 

are good honest cultivators, but the 

;ibl ilhoS nsoflive " majority are loafers who eke out a 

precarious existence by occasional 

labour or snaring of game and perhaps as grazers of 
cattle. They are also employed, though not frequently, as 
' ramoshis ' and by Banias as escorts. They are however so 
treacherous that they cannot be depended on. Away from 
home they maintain themselves by keeping ca/ts for hire or by 
manual labour. 

MIANAS. 129 

The adoption of disguises by change of dress or altering 
the appearance is not usual among 
SS am Mianas. They sometimes are dis- 
guised as fakirs or try to pass them- 
selves off as Girasias, but more often as Sindhis or Jats. When 
however they are committing a daring dacoity or are bailing 
up passengers on a road in Gujerat, they often pretend to be 
Customs or Police officers or to belong to the irregular soldiery 
of some Chief. On such occasions they wear the uniforms 
and belts which they have collected or stolen and carry swords 
and guns, which they value very highly and obtain and secrete 
under ground with extraordinary skill. When in large gangs 
they never attempt to hide their identity but take a pride 
in letting the people know that they are Mianas. 

The Miana of Malia is a confirmed and desperate free- 
booter defying all law and order, but 

Crime to which addicted. . , J ' , . . 

in the present day his movements are 

controlled and checked by stringent supervision and the 
enforcement of special regulations. 

Fancied or real grievances against constituted authority 
and blood feuds amongst themselves, brought about as a rule 
by the fickleness of their women and their low ideas of morality, 
on which however they rather pride themselves, are causes 
which excite their criminal instincts and drive them into out- 
lawry. As a dacoit the Miana still stands supreme in Kathia- 
wad. History furnishes ample evidence of his prowess as such 
his cruelty, cunning, courage and stamina. 

Mianas are addicted to daring highway robberies and 
dacoities, sacking villages, cattle lifting, house-breaking, thefts 
of all kinds, extortion by intimidating petty land-owners and 
enticing away or kidnapping wives and daughters of Mianas 
of other clans. A vindictive race, they have been known 
to waylay and cut off the noses and lips of officials who have 
proved obnoxious to them, and frequently they disfigure faith- 
less women by cutting off their noses. 

They are also adepts at breaking out of jail and escap- 
ing from custody when being escorted from one place to 

They set much store by arms and ammunition and are 
expert in their use. If they cannot obtain weapons by fair 
means they will acquire them by theft. 

Their plans are always well laid and daringly executed. 
B 5149 


The most criminal clans of the Miana class are llu- Jam, 
Sandhwani, Mor, Paredi, Manek, Gandh and Ladhani. 

Armed with a permit, allowing them to leave their villages, 
obtained on some pretext or other 

Methods employed in com- . 1,1 / .1 

mining crinu- and distinguish- or by stealth or with the connivance 
ing characteristics likely to o f elders of the clan (who are to a 

afford a clue. , u .,, r 

great extent held responsible for any 

crime traced back to the tribe), a few enterprising individuals 
will leave their villages, often mounted on camels, armed with 
gun or sword and hold up some unfortunate Bania, raid cattle 
or rob some rich money-lender who fancies himself secure in 
his village with a guard of a couple of Pathans or Arabs. 

These watchmen often show fight and not infrequently 
the depredators sustain fatal injuries. On such occasions the 
wounded are carried off by their comrades and day-break 
finds them back in their villages ready to explain to the police 
how ' Maya ' is suffering from a broken leg, the result of a fall 
from a tree, or ' Visa ' was gored to death by a vicious bullock. 

When hopelessly involved they turn outlaw or ' Barwatia ' 
(literally ' out on the road ') and cause much annoyance and 
loss to the public and trouble to the authorities before they are 
finally captured. 

Comparatively recently, dacoities on a large scale were 
committed in the Ahmedabad District by a mixed gang of 
Mianas and Kolis mounted on camels, with a skill, rapidity, 
and fearlessness worthy of a better cause. Arrested and 
convicted they were extradited to Baroda for offences in that 
State and while awaiting trial at the Petlad Jail, the accused 
broke out and defied, for some time, authority in the country 
between the borders of Sind through Cutch and Kathiawad to 
Ahmedabad. Surrounded at last by the Kathiawad Agency 
and Chuda State Police after one year's freedom, they offered 
a stout resistance and most were shot down or captured. 

Mianas get information of houses to be looted through 
local friends. The gang which, as a rule, exceeds five in 
number, resorts to a suitable spot in the jungles near a tank 
or well within ten miles or so of the scene of the proposed 
crime. Thence, armed with guns, swords and sticks, they 
make for the village marked down, the house is rushed, 
perhaps under pretext of a search for contraband opium, and 
the inmates intimidated and terrified. Hesitation to point out 
tin- spot when- valuables are concealed meets with severe 
maltreatment. While some are engaged in the house, others 

MIANAS. 131 

will post themselves at the approaches and outside the village 
to prevent their victims from escaping and outside assistance 
from arriving till the dacoity is over. 

Or again, before committing a large dacoity or sacking a 
village, one or two Mianas come down and carefully 
reconnoitre the ground. Frequently one gets some work in the 
neighbourhood and then when plans are matured word is 
sent back to Malia or wherever the danga or Miana 
encampment happens to be. On such occasions they walk 
or ride immense distances, always keeping near a river-bed. 

In exploiting highways a gang is divided into two groups 
posted at an interval of a mile or so apart to intercept 
passengers and carts travelling in both directions. When 
retreating, the gang, in order to mislead, travels away from 
the direction eventually to be taken and endeavours to keep 
to hard ground or marsh land which leaves no tracks. 

In order to deceive trackers as to the numerical strength 
of a gang, some of the members will, it is said, occasionally 
carry others on their backs for some distance to reduce the 
number of foot-prints. As a rule they travel by night and 
halt during the day, posting look-outs on trees etc. near the 
halting place. Should a villager or a traveller come suddenly 
or unexpectedly on a gang, he is not allowed to proceed till 
it has departed ; not infrequently he is tied to a tree, in which 
unhappy plight he remains till he is discovered by some 
villager next morning. 

After a large haul or escape from a jail, Mianas will, as 
soon as possible, go to the Multani pirs tomb outside Malia 
to offer up thanks for their success. 

" The daring nature of the offence and the Miana's dis- 
tinctive appearance usually afford a clue to the identity of the 

When engaged in house-breaking they use violence if 
interfered with. 

Admission of guilt is practically unknown, unless obtained 
through the influence of elders. 

Mr. Souter, a former Superintendent of the Kathiawad 
Agency Police, who on one occasion greatly distinguished him- 
self in a personal encounter with a well-armed and desperate 
gang, writing with special experience of Mianas, says that 

" Miana outlaws when brought to bay have in past years 
frequently shown fight. On such occasions they have borne out the 


opinion formed of them by Colonel Watson, a former Political Agent 
in Kathiawad, that they have the makings of excellent soldiers. 
They ha\e always shown great judgment in selecting ground which 
has made it difficult to attack them and they have invariably 
improved the natural advantages of their position by either digging 
trenches or piling up stones as fortifications. They have further 
shown foresight in arranging for food and drink, as also discipline 
in setting aside marksmen to fire for them whilst reserving the tin- 
of the whole body till a charge was made on their position. Their 
retreat when possible has also always been orderly and undertaken 
at night. Such masterly tactics have always defeated the ordinary 
Durban troops and two stones to the memory of European officers who 
have fallen in such encounters will be found standing today in 
Malia territory, the land of the Mianas." 

Mianas on marauding expeditions frequently mount them- 
selves on camels or ponies and carry 

Stock-in-trade, instruments cmnS or SWOrds Or both. A Miail.'l 
and weapons used in commit- n i i 

ting crime. generally carries an iron-ringed stick 

wherever he goes and is also fond of 

having a hatchet handy, even when driving a cart. A knife 
is also part of the stock-in-trade of a Miana. They also carry 
a chagal (leather water-bag) and at times a pair of binoculars. 

Much skill is displayed in the concealment of stolen pro- 
perty. In common with other crimi- 
Ways and means of con- nals, after the commission of an affray, 

Dealing or disposing of stolen . . . . . . . . < 

property. they hide their booty in the ground. 

When in their own country they bury 

it in their fields or burial grounds. Elsewhere, as a rule, in 
millahs or river banks. When the hue-and-cry is over the 
property is taken out and, as nearly every Bania, Lohana, 
and Brahmin is a ' receiver ' of stolen property in Malia and 
in the villages on the borders of both sides of the Rann, 
no difficulty is experienced in disposing of it. Many Ginisias 
are also ' fences ' and as all ' receivers ' are extremely afraid 
of Mianas, information is seldom forthcoming against the 

Haraii Shikaris. 

The centre figure is a dwarf. Me was employed by the gang; for getting 
information by begging, playing the ' fungi,' shell, etc. 


Pardhis are of police interest because they are an offshoot 

of the great Bauriah tribe, a stock from 

Name of criminal class which a variety of criminal classes 

or tribe. . { ... - 

have sprung. 1 he sporting instincts of 

this tribe gained for them the cognomen ' Pardhi,' from pdradh 
hunting or fowling, and from their different methods some were 
named Vaghri Pardhis, others Phas Pardhis. Vaghri is 
derived from the Sanskrit word vaghur, meaning a net to 
entrap hares etc., and the Pardhis who use nets are called 
Vaghri Pardhis. Phas means a noose, so Pardhis who catch 
pig, deer etc., by means of a line to which nooses are attached 
are called Phas Pardhis and in some parts of India are known 
as Meyvvarees. One division of the Pardhis in the Khandesh 
District still employs the vaghur and is known as Vaghri 
Pardhis. But as most of them now follow the profession of 
fretting mill-stones, they are also called Takaris or Takankars. 
Tdkne means chiselling. 

The Vaghris of Gujerat and Kathiawad are quite distinct 
from Vaghri Pardhis. 

Phas Pardhis, also known as Pal and Langoti Pardhis, 
differ from the Vaghri or Takankar Pardhis. They are known 
differently as Langoti Pardhis by reason of their scanty attire 
which usually consists of little else but a langoti ; as Pal 
Pardhis because they live in pals ; as Gai Pardhis because 
they shikar with trained cows. Some Phas Pardhis style 
themselves Raj Pardhis, But by whatever name the Phas 
Pardhi is known in this Presidency, he is apparently quite 
distinct from the Langoti Pardhi of the Central Provinces 
described in Colonel Gunthorpe's ""Notes on Criminal Tribes." 
The latter are, so far as can be ascertained, not indigenous to 
this Presidency .and do not visit it. As however an interesting 
note on the Langoti Pardhis of the Central Provinces, written 
by Mr. Sewell, District Superintendent of Police, Amraoti, 
in 1906, may prove useful to Bombay Police Officers, it is 
reproduced as Appendix I to this compilation. 

In the Carnatic, Phas Pardhis are known as Haranshikaris, 
Advichanchers or Chigribatgirs. 

Another branch of the tribe is known as Telvechanya 
Pardhis. The Telvechanya, as his name implies, is a vendor 
of a certain mineral oil usually sold in the Deccan by people 


from Northern India. It is commonly believed that this oil 
restores lost vitality and when rubbed into the palm percolates 
through the hand and exudes at the back. 

The few Mahomedan Pardhis found in Cutch, Khandesh 
and Dhanvar (30 in all) are probably converts to Islam. 

Lastly, there is a sub-division of the Pardhi tribe known as 
Cheetuwalla Pardhis who are far less numerous than all other 
kinds and are not the same source of anxiety to the police. 

This depressed tribe is to be found scattered all over the 
, . Presidency but is most numerous in 

Habitat. ... i i T i e i i 

Khandesh. It is also round in the 
Central Provinces and Sind. 

Pardhis, with the exception of Takankars, may well be 

described as wanderers with no fixed 

Sphere of activity and wan- abodes. The sphere of their criminal 

denng proclivities. .... . 

activities is, as a rule, not more than a 

radius of eight or ten miles from their encampments or 
houses, as the case may be, though here and there on the 
borders of districts of Khandesh and Central Provinces they 
have been known to go considerably further, even from twenty- 
five to fifty miles, in pursuit of crime. 

Takankars live in the villages and have houses, but ordi- 
narily do not leave their own districts for criminal expeditions 
involving absence for any time and do not wander into distant 

Wandering Pardhis live in grass huts or pals and generally 
camp where the supply of water and grazing is good and 
plentiful and where they can snare game. 

In the case of a wandering tribe such as the bulk of 

Pardhis, census figures are perhaps not 

Population according to last altogether accurate, but for what they 

census, and distribution. . . - ' , / 

are worth those or the Bombay Presi- 
dency census of 1901 relating to this tribe are given below : 

Wandering Pardhis. 

Males. Females. 

Cutch 431 410 

Kathiawad ... 4 

Surat Atn'iK-y . . . ... 3 2 

Ahmedabad ... 13 n 

I 'anch Mahals ... ... 2 3 

Surat ... ... 32 27 

Thana ... ... i i 

. \hmeclnagar ... ... 68 84 

Khamk-sh ... ... 2,532 2,618 










Savnur State 




Thar and Parkar 

Upper Sind Frontier 

Wandering Pdrdhis contd. 




1 60 






Mahomedan Pdrdhis. 







2 5 8 









6 37 

2 57 





Takdris or Tdkankars. 













With the exception of those who have settled in villages, 
Pardhis of all kinds are chiefly distin- 

Appearance, dress, etc. . . ' 

guished by their scanty dress and 

general unkempt, dirty appearance. Their hair is neither cut 
nor combed nor, as a rule, is the beard shaved. Some females 
wear the sari like the Maratha women of the Deccan, others 
a small skimpy petticoat. All wear the choli or bodice 
covering the chest. Both males and females wear a necklace 
of coloured or onyx beads, which, with tin, copper-brass and 
brass bangles and ear-rings and chains form their only adorn- 
ment. The dhotar or cloth thrown over the shoulders or the 
shirt worn by the male is usually dyed to a shade of brown or, 
originally white has become a dirty brown colour by wear. 
Coat and shoes are not, as a rule, worn. The male's head- 
dress varies between an old tattered rag which "twisted into a 


rope barely encircles the head and a well- worn pttgri through 
which the crown of the head is visible. 

It is said that wandering Pardhi devotees of certain 
goddesses will not wear garments of particular colours ; it 
would seem that this custom was at one time observed by 
Bauriahs, who had similar restrictions regulated by the parti- 
cular colour dedicated to the deity worshipped by them a 
further proof of the relationship between these two classes. 

The Takankars and the more settled Pardhis dress much 
like the poorer Kunbis. They bear no resemblance to the 
wandering division. Their females mostly wear the laluunga 
or ghtigra or skirt with odni like the poorer women of Gujerat, 
the fold over the head falling from right to left. Some dress 
like ordinary Kunbi women and wear sdri and choli. 

Intermarriage amongst the various sub-divisions of the 
Pardhis is forbidden ; thus a Takankar Pardhi may not marry a 
Phas Pardhi and so on. Takankars will not eat food cooked 
by Phas Pardhis, but the latter will partake of food prepared 
by Takankars. All Pardhis are much addicted to drink and 
eat all fish and flesh except beef. 

In appearance and physical attributes Takankars show no 
marked variation from the ordinary agricultural classes. 

As a class, wandering Pardhis vary in complexion between 
brown and dark, are of medium stature, very hardy, active, 
with great powers of endurance and keen senses. They 
cannot possibly be mistaken. The male, with his long 
unkempt locks, his large metal ear-rings, the dirty rag doing 
duty as a turban, his "scanty nether garments, general wild, 
squalid appearance, his sneaking gait and black wooden 
whistle hanging from his neck with which he imitates the call 
of the partridge, is unmistakable wherever he goes. The 
female Pardhi is more elaborately attired than the male. 

Wandering Pardhis move from place to place with their 
families in gangs of varying strength numbering even a hundred 
or more. The men 'with their snaring nets and nooses and 
baskets are followed by the women and children carrying the 
pals and a variety of goods and chattels. Sometimes their 
paraphernalia are loaded on cows or buffaloes. 

Their encampments are squalid in the extreme, overrun by 
pariah dogs, fowls and miserable-looking half-starved cattle. 


During the rains Pardhi gangs collect in the vicinity of 
towns or villages ; when the harvest commences they break 
up into small parties and wander from place to place. 

Cheetawalla Pardhis catch young panthers and cheeta 
cubs which they train and sell to ' rajahs ' or exhibit, and for 
this reason probably, sometimes call themselves Raj Pardhis. 
They carry these animals about in carts with low wheels and 
camp under trees at a distance from villages. They do not 
carry tents or shelters. 

Settled Pardhis, such as Takankars or Vaghri Pardhis who 
live in towns, occupy the same quarter together. In villages 
they live in a cluster of huts outside known as the ' Pardhi- 

The Pardhi's home language is a corrupt guttural mixture 

of dialects in which Gujerati predomi- 

Diaiect and peculiarities nates. It has a strong family likeness 

or speech. ^^ 

to ' Baori-bhasha.' They can also 

talk Hindustani, and corrupt Marathi or Canarese according 
as they live in the Deccan or the Carnatic. As a rule they 
talk very loud and in the presence of strangers in Hindustani. 

The following are some of their 

Slang used. . . 

slang expressions : 

Slang. Meaning, 

raj . . . chief constable, 

khapai ... constable, 

mul ... to run. 

khapai awas mul' ... run, the constable is coming, 

kaloo ... police officer, 

wassai ... theft, 

khonukus ... gold. 

Enquiry shows that slang expressions in use in one part 
of the Presidency are not always understood in another. 

Though still fond of hunting and poaching, many Takankars 
have taken to labour and agriculture 
of live- anc j some are employed as village 
watchmen. Wandering Pardhis beg, 
snare game, prepare and sell drugs obtained from roots, 
plants, etc., deal in black and white beads known as ' bajar 
battoo ' used as charms against the evil eye, and in parts 
collect and sell forest produce. They are expert in catching 
and netting game and their neat snares 20 to 40 feet long are 
most skilfully fashioned. Bamboo pegs six inches or so apart 


hold down the main line on which the running nooses aiv 
fixed. Made of gut, these lines are strong enough to hold 
even pig and deer. They are skilfully laid and the animals 
are cleverly driven over them. Hares and partridges are caught 
with these snares, pigeon with nets thrown over the mouth of 
a well and quail and small birds by being driven into nets 
cunningly spread to catch ground game. To attract game, 
Pardhis imitate very naturally the partridge call with the whistle 
carried round the neck and can produce by mouth the calls 
and cries of peacock, quail, young and old jackals, hares, 
foxes etc., to the life. 

Takankar Pardhis go in especially fi.r making and repairing 

Cheetawalla Pardhis in addition to selling cheeta cubs also 
snare birds and sell herbal medicines Some have given up 
catching cheetas and have taken to snaring deer under cover 
of a bullock and are therefore sometimes known up-country as 
' Bahelias,' a corruption for ' Bailwallas.' 

Pardhis do not adopt disguises but when committing 
crime gird up their loins, muffle their 

Disguises adopted and means f aces wrap a c l ot h, which is fastened 
or identification. rr i i i i i i i i 

on behind in a knot, round the body 
and make use of Hindustani words. 

Takankars amongst Pardhis are the most inveterate house- 
breakers and dangerous criminals. 

Crime to which addicted. . . . > . ... . , 

Ine wandering sporting divisions of 

Pardhis are not so hardened or expert and as long as game is to 
be found in plenty indulge in little beyond grain thefts or appro- 
priation of smaller live-stock, though when pinched by hunger or 
tempted by some favourable opportunity they readily take to 
more serious forms of crime and are most active during the har- 
vest season. But in degree of criminality, wandering Pardhis 
differ with their' locale. For instance, those met with in Khan- 
desh have on the whole a good reputation in that they are not 
given to serious crime. In the Southern Maratha Country they 
are far more troublesome. 

Those with criminal propensities wherever met with, are 
addicted to dacoity and robbery, often, especially by Takan- 
kars, accompanied \vith great violence, even murder, house- 
breaking, sheep-stealing, grazing their cattle in ryots' tit-Ids, 
thefts of crops, cotton and grain from grain-pits, cattle lifting 
and cheating. 


Dacoities and highway robberies are committed by Pardhis 

Methods employed in com- in an organized manner and are usually 

mining crime and distinguish- accompanied by considerable violence. 

i n ffird ch a ara c c iu e e! stics Hkdy '" While some effect forcible entry into 

the house or carry out the attack, 

others protect their comrades by keeping off any assistance 
that may arrive. Sheep and goat lifting by stealth or openly 
is a favourite form of crime. In the commission of ordinary 
crime Pardhis work in small gangs of two, three or four, and 
there is an instance on record of an old confirmed Pardhi 
criminal who worked with his wife only. Information is 
acquired by the women while begging, also from friendly 
liquor-vendors and through spies. 

The Takankar's avocation of rechiselling grinding-stones 
gives him excellent opportunities for examining the interior 
economy of houses, the position of boxes, cupboards, etc., and 
gauging the wealth of the inmates. 

Pardhis are not averse to allowing other castes to join 
them or to joining others in the commission of crime. Of 
late years some of the more intelligent Takankars have taken 
to a form of cheating commonly known as the ' confidence 
trick ' false ornaments being palmed off on to simple villagers 
as genuine. The Pardhi, taking with him some copper gilt 
ornaments, visits a village where he has an accomplice. 
Through the medium of the latter an unsuspecting villager is 
produced who is only too ready to purchase gold ornaments 
at a very profitable rate. He is cautioned that, as the 
ornaments are stolen property, he must keep them hidden for 
a month or two until police enquiries have ceased. When the 
purchaser eventually takes the ornaments into use he discovers, 
when it is too late, that he has been deceived. The dishonest 
part he has played of course deters him from complaining to 
the police. 

Another form of crime the Takankar indulges in, in common 
with many other criminal classes, is that of decoying into a 
secluded spot outside a village the would-be ' receiver ' of stolen 
property and robbing him of his cash a trick which carries a 
wholesome lesson with it. Wandering Pardhis never lapse 
entirely into crime, their sporting instincts, by which they keep 
body and soul together, probably saving them from falling to 
the level of the Kaikadis, whom they approach in physique, 
boldness in execution and endurance. 


The wodiis opcnindi of the Phas Pardhi varies according 
lo circumstances. A house dacoity differs but little in deiails 
from that committed by other local criminals. After previously 
visiting the house in the day, on the pretext of begging, 
they rush into the village at nighl , create an uproar, 
sometimes with cries of ' Din ! Din ! ' raid the building and 
beat the inmates more or less severely. They occasionally 
dig up the floors in search for valuables and before depart- 
ing sometimes set fire to the roof, if of inflammable mate- 
rial, to create a diversion. 

Ears of corn robbed from standing crops are immediately 
threshed and mixed with grain stolen from other fields to 
prevent identification. 

After the harvest the Phas Pardhi directs his attention to 
threshing floors and grain-pits and it is here that violence is 
sometimes used, any watchman endeavouring to defend his 
charge being ruthlessly knifed or knocked on the head with a 

During the day Phas Pardhis roam about begging from 
cultivators, and noting the position of grain-pits. If given 
grain they refrain from molesting the donors, looting only 
those who refuse to comply with their demands. 

As a rule only small quantities of grain are carried off, 
thereby minimising the risk of being tracked by droppings.. 

Stolen grain is usually stowed away in some place of 
concealment outside the camp. It is always advisable to 
examine the blankets of persons suspected of grain thefts 
for husks adhering thereto. The discovery of these will 
not improbably result in the culprits' confession of the crime. 

In goat and sheep stealing if it is found impossible to kill 
the animal immediately, it is carried off to a convenient hiding 
place pending final disposal. 

Cattle are lifted while out grazing and are generally driven 
away to some distance before they are sold or ransom 

The modus operand* of the Telvechanya Pardhi in cheating 
his customers is often effective if somewhat crude and simple. 
He manufactures a spurious brand of oil and should an 
^intending buyer require the usual test, some oiled rag or rope 
is surreptitiously placed on the ground or across the Pardhi 's 
knees under the victim's hand to which pressure is applied 
whilst anointing the palm. Thus the trick is done. 


Takankars are said to be very difficult to influence or to 
move and seldom admit their guilt or disclose the names of 
their ' receivers ' or accomplices even if caught red-handed. 

In the commission of dacoity Pardhis mostly carry slings, 
stones and sticks and occasionally an 

Stock-in-trade, instruments axe anc l torches. Matchlocks. SDCarS 

and weapons used in commit- , , 

ting crime. and swords are rare, but are not 

unknown. The favourite instruments 

for house-breaking are a sort of chisel called kinkra, an iron 
jemmy with a wooden handle called khantia, kettur or 
kutturna and a kusa (plough* share). 

A knife, which he uses without compunction if hard pressed, 
is the Phas Pardhi's favourite and constant companion. 

Takankars rarely conceal property in their houses. Wander- 
ing Pardhis often conceal their stolen 
Ways and means of con- property in holes dug in the ground 

ceahng or disposing of stolen } \ J 11 -r i j 

property. having a small onhce, but scooped out 

at the base to form a large receptacle. 

This is another characteristic of the Bauriah, indicative of the 
common origin of both tribes. The property is put into this, the 
mouth covered up and over it occasionally one of the gang sleeps. 
Sometimes stolen property is buried in beds of rivers, fields or 
somewhere near their encampments. Near the pegs to which 
they tie their cattle and near the back of their encampments 
are favourite places of concealment with them. 

Pardhis seldom dispose of valuables till a considerable 
time has elapsed since the offence. 

Sheep and goats are mostly slaughtered and consumed at 
once, the skin being disposed of in a distant bazar or sold to 
the village ' chambhar ' or ' dhor.' 

They have ' receivers ' for all sorts of stolen goods among 
goldsmiths, liquor-vendors, agriculturists, complaisant village 
officers and sdivkdrs. 

Coins of the realm are often sewn up and concealed in 

their quilts. 

When changing camp stolen property is conveyed by a 
single member of the gang a mile or two ahead or in rear 
of the main body. 

Pardhis have also been known to send back to the old site 
for property buried there, thus anticipating police search when 
on the road. Women are credited with concealing small 


valuables by tying them into a sham bandage round the Ir^ 
covering an imaginary sore, or between the legs. 

The ground in and round an encampment of Pardhis 
should invariably be dug or ploughed up before a search is 

The search of a gang should be carried out, so far as 
possible, in force by the police, as both men and women arc- 
apt to be very troublesome and in every way d<> their best to 
embarrass the officers. 

A Ramoshi. 


Ramoshis are divided into two main branches known as 
Purandhar, or Bhandate Ramoshis, 

X'ame of criminal class i TT i u O - U' u i i_ 

or tribe. an< ^ Hoigah Kamoshis. Holgah 

Ramoshis seem to hold little or no 

intercourse with the Purandhar Ramoshis, and will not eat food 
prepared by them. The habits and pursuits, however, of the 
two tribes are practically similar. 

The Deccan is the home of the Ramoshi ; the Poona and 
Satara Districts his chief stronghold. 
These two districts and the Native 

States under the Poona and Satara Agencies produce the 
most hardy and daring Ramoshi criminals. A few are scatter- 
ed over other parts of the Presidency. In Bombay Ramoshis 
are to be met with working in the mills or docks and as cart- 
men and hamdls (porters). 

The Ramoshi is not a traveller like the Bhampta or Chhap- 
parband. nor migratory and evasive 

Sphere of activity and wan- (., , , , r ., , , T -, J . , f 

dering proclivities. like the Kaikadi. His sphere or 

activity is confined to a radius of thirty 

or forty miles round the village in which he resides, and he con- 
lines his operations to the Marathi-speaking districts. An 
outlaw Ramoshi is a difficult man to catch, but, as a rule, does 
not put more than fifty miles between himself and his home 
which he periodically and stealthily visits. Ramoshis rarely 
commit serious offences in or near their own villages or within the 
limits of the taluka in which they reside. In respect to thefts 
and ordinary burglaries they are not so particular. 

According to the last census, Ramoshis are returned as 
numbering 60,554 in the whole Presid- 

Population according to last j- XT , OA T 1 !. 

census, and distribution. ency including Native States. The 

following tabular statement gives their 

distribution : 

Northern Divisio n . 

Males. Females Total. 

I'.oinhay City ... ... 33 J..' 55 

Ahmtxkibad ... ... 6 5 n 

Thana ... ... 57 39 96 


Central Division. 

Males. Females. Total. 

Ahmednagar ... 1,961 1,996 3,957 

Khandesh ... 225 229 454 

Nasik ... 437 479 9 l6 

Poona ... n,407 10,176 21,583 

Satara ... ... 10,820 10, 181 21,001 

Sholapur ... ... 1,387 1,326 2,713 

Native States in Central Division. 

Akalkot ... ... 38 29 67 

Bhor ... 526 333 859 

Khandesh Agency ... I ... i 

Satara Agency 2,615 2,334 4,949 

Southern Division. 

Dhanvar ... ... 6 10 16 

Kolaba ... ... 23 10 33 

Ratnagiri 33 16 49 

Native States in Southern Division. 

Kolhapur ... ... 991 yoi 1,892 

Southern Maratha Country ... 877 1,025 I .9- 

Total 3M43 29,111 60,554 

They are of average height to tall, well built, muscular, 
of good physique and great endurance. 

A nrw*2)ra nf*fs n rf^s ft f* *-^ * J * *~3 

A\ |MJ< ill <l llv t_7, UIC33, CH-. T*1 11 111* 1* 

I hey are dark to black in complexion, 

somewhat coarse in features and of a low standard of intelli- 
gence. In their predatory habits, methods and other charac- 
teristics they closely resemble Berads. In the matter of con- 
fessing to crime and giving away confederates and accomplices 
they are rather obdurate. The best way to get information out 
of them is to work them through some influential, well-behaved 
relative or important local personage with influence over them. 

There is nothing peculiar about the Ramoshi's dress or 
appearance. Men and women wear clothes of coarse cloth and 
dress much like the poorer Hindus of the Deccan. As a rule 
women do not accompany their husbands for the commission 
of crime. 

Ramoshis are idle, dirty in their habits and appearance and 
fond of shikar in a mild way. They are flesh eaters, but 
eschew beef. 


From time immemorial the Ramoshi has been a dacoit and 
robber and though with the march of civilization and good 
government he has settled to a more or less regular life, his 
restless spirit and the predatory instinct which he has 
inherited, is soon roused whenever through scarcity or other 
cause, necessity drives or a favourable opportunity offers. 

Ramoshis chew and smoke tobacco and are addicted to 
drink. As a class they are very clannish. 

An oath taken on ' Bel Bhandar/ that is, a pot of water or 
some grain, turmeric powder and ' bel ' tree leaves, all placed 
on a ghongdi (coarse blanket) is considered most binding. 
Holgah Ramoshis, it is said, take an oath by the tulsi plant, 
Purandhar or Bhandate Ramoshis, by the * Bel Bhandar.' 

Ramoshis live in houses on the outskirts of towns and 
villages like other ordinary Hindu inhabitants ot the Deccan. 
They inherit a restless spirit which the progress of civili- 
zation and changed conditions have failed to altogether 
extinguish. For this reason they always require careful 
watching. The predatory instinct, though latent, is ever 
ready to become active when favourable opportunity offers, 
and a leader such as Omaji Naik, his son Tuka Mhankala, the 
brothers Hari and Tatia Makaji, whose names are still house- 
hold words, comes to the front. Comparatively recent history 
affords instances of this. In 1879 the Ramoshis of Satara 
and Poona Districts took to open outlawry in large gangs and 
disturbed the peace of the countryside. To quell the move- 
ment it became necessary to call in the aid of the military and 
appoint experienced and additional European police officers 
and a large body of extra police, and it was only after length- 
ened operations over a considerable area that the authorities 
gained the upper hand and broke up and captured the gangs. 

They speak Marathi of the lower orders. The dialect 
spoken by Holgahs is Marathi sprinkl- 

Dialect and peculiarities L , . , A , 

of speech. fid with Lanarcse words. 

Ramoshis have a collection of words, many of which are of 
Telegu or Canarese derivation, which 

Slang used. A i_ i 

they use on special occasions, such 

as when, in the act of perpetrating a crime or communicat- 
ing some secret to their own kinsmen in the presence of 



Subjoined is a vocabulary of slang expressions used by 
the class : 







tinli or tagla 


yarwad, yerid 


sa j 





beard, moustache. 

gon, gondhale 



betel leaf. 



pal or nidla 





boring (hole). 


boy or girl. 

paraga, parud . 







to catch. 



chilad or chikad 



chief constable. 


clarified butter. 

kapduli or kapdool 

cloth, clothes. 

kodle or kodil 

cock or hen. 

gadgali, gadgil 

cocoa nut. 



tikliya or tikto 


murel or murli 

copper coin. 


cowdung cakes. 


to cut. 




dark night. 





devaram ukanto 








yargu nako 

do not fear. 

gudus machulya chi ka 
paragyachi ? 

does the house belong to a Kunbi 
or a Brahmin ? 

gonle tari mat 

don't tell even if you are beaten 

ismadu nako. 

or killed. 

valsu nako 

don't confess. 

nidla tagayachi 

to drink liquor or water. 

yenum, yenuli 

ears of grain. 





nakoli or kanoli 

kudmuli tagayachi 

mudod, muduk, targad 

yarap, yargu 


shit, dhoopa 

menuli, mengul 




mekli ... 


j'itvad, jatik 




tubuk, nadali 

padli ismada amachi 
phadvad patadamali is- 
jatvad ka yarvad ? 

katul ismad 








gudus, gudsal 

sitarpadi, much 


shenat khogada 


kanti ka kayabadh ? 

gudusat shit ahe ka ? 


par gondhoon takali 

kadle, nagul 





to eat or drink. 

to eat bread. 

fast runner. 
J father, mother. 
Xold man or woman. 

to fear. 

fighting man. 

fire, torch, lamp. 



go, run. 




good, plentiful. 

gold or silver articles of small 

gold and gold ornaments. 




give us our share, 
give the headman some money. 

good or bad, rich or poor, high 
or low, young or old, strong 
or weak ? 

give me the sword. 










hole or opening in a wall. 

hide it under ground. 


is he looking at us or sleeping ? 

is there a lamp in the house ? 

to kill. 


key or lock or nail. 











gereli, aduk 





liquor or any liquid. 



jatwad tal gudasat khobla 

leave the good turban in the 

an yarvad ismad. 

house and take the bad one. 











clamal, damkati 




nor, mokar 



Musalm 'n. 





nedle, nidla 



ornaments of white metal. 


pdtil or man of position. 





gadgilwala or gardum- 



junka, zimak 

police constable. 



gudus gonayache 

to plunder a house. 

shitachi nidlani yerid 

put out the fire. 




boyil, bhooyal 



the Ramoshi's language. 





gudumila okna 

run to the hill. 

raichach okna 

run while it is dark. 


ran away, went. 


to snatch, steal. 


to sit. 



korguli or korpade . . 


kolgia, kolgil 


padli, patta 



sweet thing. 

tyabgadla or tyabadla ... 












katul ... 

devram tikla 

mat matul 




kat-katun tak 




devram khugadle 

gudusat kukul khogadla . 

nalgya oorala khogadla . 

kolgilivar patatyal 

phadvadchya gudasa- 

madi zimak khogadla. 

Patil re patil. 
damali ismad 
shit yarapli 

bungad, bungadia 

phadur, oor, oorul 
adat, adtool 
adata, childa, mat ismad 

ambuj gudasala ka- 

khogadlay ? Kudmuli 

ismad an okna. 
ka boyalis, yarvad ka 


chiladi ami tumachi 



nidlatagun yarvad val ... 

aduk gudusalla yeill 



sword or cutting instrument. 






to tie. 




the sun is set. 

there is a dog in the house. 

a police officer has come to the 

they will find you out from your 

the sepoy is sitting in the pdtiTs 
house. Take care, he will 
arrest you. 

give him money. 

the lamp is out. 





keep watch. 


wife or woman. 

wood or wooden article. 

don't speak, women and child- 

why has the Mang come to our 
house? Give him bread and 
let him go. 

well, Ramoshis, are you true 
Ramoshis or Ramoshis only in 
name ? 

we are your children. 


a young goat. 

you will drink liquor and become 

you will leave a trace 

A large number are hereditary village watchmen and a few 

Ostensible means of live- are enlisted in (he police. They also 

lihood - cultivate land, hire themselves out as 

field watchmen, labour in the fields, take domestic service, 


ply carts for hire and even work as coolies. The women 
too work in the fields and earn an honest penny. 

Ramoshis do not, as a rule, adopt any disguises. When 
committing gang robbery or dacoity 

>is * Ui o?,&o"l mea " they tie up their faces and, if they have 

reason to fear recognition, so much as 

is left visible they sometimes smear with white or coloured 
powder. When travelling far afield they sometimes pass 
themselves off as Marathas or Kunbis. 

With the predatory instinct in his veins and naturally of a 
daring and reckless spirit, the Ramoshi 

Crime to which addicted. ... . . ' . 

will commit any crime against property 

likely to yield him profit, such as dacoity, robbery, crop stealing 
and other cognate offences. He is known to be a confirmed 
burglar and when in straits will resort to cattle and sheep 
lifting. He also levies black-mail from travellers and cart-men 
putting up at his village for the night and if it is not paid, the 
victim is pretty certain to be robbed during the night or shortly 
after he has started in the early hours of the morning. Simi- 
larly standing crops unless very carefully guarded by the owner 
or watched by a Ramoshi are sure, sooner or later, to be rob- 
bed by the village Ramoshis. 

Heinous crimes are committed only on dark nights or in 
the last quarter of the moon. Before 

Methods employed in com- * . 

mitting crime and distinguish- venturing on a dacoity or other cnme 
in g characteristics likely to t h e Ramoshi carefully selects the house 

afford a clue. . -11 i 

to be raided or the scene of attack, as 

the case may be, and ascertains such particulars concerning the 
locality, his victims etc., as will facilitate the execution of his 
design, carefully calculating the nature of resistance he is likely 
to meet. 

Information in the case of a contemplated attack on a 
h'ouse, is sometimes obtained through their women who visit 
the house under the pretence of borrowing money, or through 
local bad characters. But in the sphere of their criminal 
activities there are Ramoshis in nearly every village and from 
and by these, information is easily secured and conveyed. 

For the commission of an organized crime the Ramoshi 
sets about forming a gang of numerical strength varying from 
three to twelve or even fifteen. The leader of the gang is 
styled ' naik ' and he fixes and determines the strength and 
constitution of the gang, which is not made up from individuals 
of only one village, for the work in hand. 



The members of a criminal gang muffle their faces when 
delivering an attack and often dispose a blanket or kambli in 
a peculiar manner over their heads, fastening the ends round 
the waists. 

There is little difference between the Ramoshis' and the 
Berads' methods, and the actual dacoity, robbery or burglary 
is carried out on much the same lines. 

About a mile or two from the scene of crime a halt is called 
and superfluous clothing etc. is concealed in some convenient 
place. When nearing the scene of operations torches are often 
lighted and bombs exploded. The loud reports alarm the vil- 
lagers who on seeing the gang approaching with blazing torches 
barricade their doors and windows, which is exactly the effect 
the depredators wish to produce in order to leave them a free 
hand. On arrival at the scene of the crime some of the gang 
take up positions covering the approaches to the house to be 
attacked. Each of these carries with him a supply of fairly big 
stones and on reaching his allotted position commences to 
hurl these from slings down lanes and roads, on to the roofs 
and at the doors of adjoining houses to prevent people from 
coming to the assistance of the inmates of the house attacked. 
Those of the gang who are deputed to ransack the house carry 
hatchets with which doors are broken open. If resistance is 
offered, no mercy is shown ; but if property is speedily handed 
over, no personal violence is used. Having rushed the house, 
Ramoshis call on the inmates to produce their property under 
threats of decapitation with hatchets and not infrequently 
expedite matters by the application of lighted torches to the 
persons of their victims. They search women for ornaments 
which they often forcibly remove. They are however credited 
with chivalrous instincts in this connection in respect 
to married females and will not steal the mangalsutra. 
Having got all they can lay hands on, they leave, but before 
doing so, caution the inmates under pain of death against 
raising an alarm. During the progress of the crime, property 
annexed by individual members is retained for subsequent 
pooling. Having left the house they sometimes chain the doors 
from outside. While members of the gang are operating in 
the house, the stone throwers continue to pelt the adjoining 
buildings and roads. When the gang has disappeared, heaps 
of stones are often found- round about the ransacked premises. 
While the attack is in progress, abusive expressions reflecting 
on married women and slang threatening terms are freely used. 


It is to the credit of the Ramoshi that he will not deliberately 
take life or offer more violence than the circumstances of the 
case require, and rarely strikes above the shoulders. He is 
usually considerate towards females and unless resistance or 
opposition is shown will not use violence towards them. As a 
rule, he does not associate with members of other castes and 
will not join a criminal gang headed by a Mang, though he will 
allow Mangs and members of other castes to join his gang. 

The crime accomplished the gang decamps with all possible 
speed and returns to the spot where their belongings have 
been hidden. Here the booty is pooled, members searched, and 
arrangements for the division of property made. The gang 
then makes for home, dispersing one by one at the parting of 
ways, as necessary. In order to mislead the police, they fix 
their rendezvous in a direction different to the one in which they 
ultimately retreat. 

The ' dharkari ' (fighting man) and the ' paisoor ' (fast 
runner) get larger 'shares than the rest. 

There is nothing unique in their methods of committing 
highway robbery or dacoity. The gang usually divides into 
small groups which lie in ambush in the vicinity of the scene of 
attack. On the approach of a conveyance or a wayfarer the 
culprits pounce on their prey, belabour individuals and rob them 
of valuables. 

In committing house-breaking the Ramoshi prefers to break 
in through a back or side wall in the ' rumali ' fashion. 

If a lathi or club is found on the scene of an offence, an 
examination of it may perhaps offer a clue as between Ramoshis 
and Mangs. The former are credited with holding the weapon 
by its thinner end and the latter by the thicker. But whether 
this is a safe way of determining the identity of the culprits 
is open to doubt and too much reliance need not be placed 
on it. 

As a rule they avoid as much as possible being seen when 
proceeding to or returning from the scene of a crime, travelling 
generally by night and through jungles avoiding main roads 
and hiding in ravines and ndllahs during the day. But an 
instance is known where a strong gang of twelve Ramoshis 
from Purandhar took a night train 'together from Poona, 
alighted at a roadside station twenty miles off, marched ten or 
twelve miles, committed a dacoity in a house previously marked 



down, dispersed and returned home by road. Ramoshis com- 
mitting a burglary do not usually explore the house. They 
commit the crime on information obtained and do not pene- 
trate further into the house than the room into which they 
have broken. 

Sheep lifting is usually committed about midnight by 
individuals as well as small gangs. The sheep pen is 
approached from the lee side and while the rest of the gang halt 
about a hundred and fifty yards off, one member (not disguised 
in any way) approaches boldly, rapidly and squats down near 
the pen. Entering the enclosure a sheep is lifted from the 
edge of the flock and carried off to his companions. The right 
arm is passed between the animal's hind legs and the other 
through the fore legs, the sheep's neck being pressed under 
the left arm-pit, the pressure being increased if the sheep shows 
any tendency to bleat. If no alarm has been caused, the lifter 
repeats the process as often as he can. The gang then retreats 
to a pre-arranged place where the animals are killed and their 
flesh distributed. 

To prevent sheep and goats lifted from bleating, the cruel 
method of pinning the animal's tongue down with a large thorn is 
attributed to Ramoshis, Katodis and Kaikadis, though instances 
of the kind have not, so far as is known, come to light. 

Torches, a sword or gun, if either can be obtained, sticks, 

slings, stones, a hatchet or crowbar to 
stock-in-trade instruments break down doors and potash bombs 

and weapons used in commit- r i , , i -n 

ting crime. to frighten the villagers into the belief 

that the gang carries fire-arms and to 

keep off assistance, are the weapons usually carried in the 
commission of crime, though all are not necessarily carried in 
every case. 

Stolen property is usually buried in jungles, in hill-sides etc. 

and afterwards unearthed and disposed 
Ways and means of con- o f through Marwadis, Guiars and 

cealme or disposing of stolen n . , i 7 ,, J 

property. bonars. Patils and kulkarnis also 

assist in the disposal of property, as 

well as in misleading investigating officers and for their trouble 
get a share of the plunder. Ramoshis do not bury property in 
their own fields. 

Stolen property is generally not divided at once. The leader 
or some selected member of the gang is responsible for its safe 


custody and disposal. After it has been turned into cash, 
each man gets his share, the leader getting slightly more than 
the others. The usual rate for gold is eight or twelve rupees 
per tola. 

Ramoshis prefer to dispose of stolen property to ' receivers ' 
through a reliable middleman of a different caste. 


Vaghris, also known as Baghris, are subdivided into many 

Name of criminal class claSSCS, the best known of which 
or tribe. are . 


Datania (also known as Tamburias and Godriyas). 

Vedoo or Vedva. 


Kankodia including Chikadia. 

Patani or Patanwadiya. 


Dhandaria or Dhandaya. 

Gujerat Vaghris are distinct from a wandering class of 
Baoris commonly known as Marwad Vaghris or Gujerat Baoris 
who hail from Marwad. These Gujerat Baoris often try in the 
Bombay Presidency to pass themselves off as Vaghris whom 
they strongly resemble in dress, appearance and habits. 

Again Vaghris must not be mistaken for Takankar Par- 
dhis who are also known as Vaghri Pardhis. 

The Vaghri's home in this Presidency is in Gujerat and 
the neighbouring Native States with 
the Ahmedabad and Kaira Districts 

as their stronghold. South they extend as far as the Surat 
District and some are generally to be found in the outlying 
parts of Bombay City. 

Vaghris are also scattered all over Kathiawad and a few 
in the Panch Mahals. The real Gujerat Vaghri does not live in 
any numbers south of the Narbada river. 

Their sphere of special activity extends throughout Gujerat, 
Kathiawad and includes Bombay Citv 

Sphere of activity and wan- ,-p, , . , , J J ' 

dering proclivities. I hey are to be met with here and 

there pretty well all over the Bombay 

Presidency proper and are known to visit the Central Provinces 
and to have been convicted in Karachi. Some travel as far 
as Madras in the south, Calcutta in the east, and north to 
Delhi and Agra. 

As a class they are not a nomadic tribe. The majority 
are settled in villages. Some however do wander in small 


gangs with their portable huts, families, household gods 
and lead the life of gipsies, while others travel about the 
country putting up in akaramsd/ds, in temple premises and 
where circumstances permit, live in houses, in the towns 
and villages. 

Vaghris who leave their homes in Gujerat, to wander, 
usually do so after the ' Diwali.' During the rainy months they 
settle down temporarily wherever they may happen to be, 
beginning to wander again with the commencement of the 
fair season. 

Talabda Vaghris have no fixed period for leaving home 
and do not make regular tours. Their gangs rarely exceed 
four or five. They do not camp outside villages. When 
leaving home by rail they generally walk some distance to a 
station where they are not likely to be known or observed 
and when returning, alight at a different station to the one 
they started from. When on the move they are not accom- 
panied by women and children. 

The total Vaghri population in this Presidency is about 
,. 60,000 souls and is distributed as 

Population according to last , 

census, and distribution. Under : 


Ahmedabad ... ... 8,728 

Kaira ... ... 5,876 

Broach ... ... 1,394 

Bombay City ... ... 526 

Surat ... ... 372 

Panch Mahals ... ... 199 

Native States ... ... 14,095 

31,190 28,666 

Vaghris are Hindus and occupy intermediate rank between 
Kolis and Dheds. They are practi- 

Appearanre, dress, etc. ,. i i- 

cally outcasts and live in small, huts 
outside the precincts of their villages. 

1 Bhuvas,' who are their priests, are often also their 
social leaders. 

There is nothing distinctive about their dress, which is 
that of the lower Gujerati classes. The men are poorly clad 
in a pair of short breeches or waist-cloth, shirt or a pair an and 
a head-scarf tied in a circular fashion and usually leaving the 


scalp uncovered. Talabda and Chunaria Vaghris are cleaner 
and better dressed than others. Vaghri women dress as a 
rule in petticoats, kanchlis or bodices with the back open and 
an odni or upper cloth. In some instances the sari is worn 
in Gujerat fashion. Talabda females wear a long sari which 
entirely covers the petticoat and body. All Vaghri women 
wear ear-rings and broad wooden or glass bangles. Talabda 
women excepted, those of other divisions have a prejudice 
against wearing silver anklets. 

The Gujerat Gazetteer well describes Vaghris as being 
rather small and slightly built. Few of them are above the 
middle height, but all are active, wiry and well proportioned. 
Their strength and powers of endurance are great. They are 
dark skinned generally, with coarse and irregular features, 
but here and there distinctly good-looking Vaghri youths 
are to be found. A few of the younger women are well 
made and comely. Mostly both men and women are dirty 
and slovenly and though occasionally well-to-do are always 
poorly clad and have the whine and fawning ways of 

Those that wander do so under a head-man in bands of 
from five to ten with their families and animals, staying two 
or three days in a place. Excepting the cow and jackal 
they eat all flesh, including that of the pig. They do not eat 
carrion. Both sexes are given to drinking. They are a 
naturally lazy and thriftless class, but among Chunarias and 
Talabdas a few are to be found who are of a frugal turn 
of mind. 

Vaghri women are immoral, though the men pride them- 
selves on the chastity of their females. 

When a Vaghri is absent from home his wife, cleverly 
.imitating his voice, will answer for him, should any policeman 
call from outside to ascertain if the man is present. 

Chikadia Vaghris grow long beards and wear larger 
turbans than others. Round the neck a silver square pendant 
is hung. It bears an inscription in Balbodh character 
" <Tf^ r TR " (Ramde pir) on one side and on the reverse the 
image of a horse. 

Kankodias do not wear this pendant and do not grow 


Vaghris speak the Gujerati of the lower classes. They 

also speak among themselves a dialect 

Dialect and peculiarities resembling corrupt Gujerati which 

of speech. TV /-> 

however the average Gujerati cannot 

easily understand. One noticeable peculiarity in their speech 
is that they dwell on their words. 

The following is a collection of a few slang expressions 
peculiar to the Vaghris, current both 
at home and on 'their expeditions : 

Slang. Meaning. 

Slang used. 

madh, mad, biladi, or 

hath wan 
vechvali khavun 
tanda leva 

laraplun or larapli 
papkali javun 
chamai javun 
bhurio or makado 
pelo or jelvo 
ohadechhe or chitar- 

kharpali levun 

norkun or dodi 

bandun or mokun 


house-breaking and theft. 


stolen jewellery. 

stolen clothes. 

to sell off. 


to steal grain. 

a rupee. 



a stick, lathi. 

' dharia ' (sharp bill-hook), a big knife. 

to run away. 

to hide. 

a European, a saheb. 

stranger or outsider. 

is coming. 

a Vaghri. 

a Vaghri woman. 



instrument for house-breaking. 

bunch of keys. 


to rob. 

an associate in crime. 

a Dharala. 

a Kunbi. 

a Musalman. 

a Brahmin. 

a Bania. 

a (iirasia or a Rajput. 



The cry of a jackal, which is well simulated by the Vaghri, 
is in use among them as a signal to others to foregather at the 
place whence the call proceeds, and also to notify presence. 

Chunarias are lime-burners and cultivators. In the 
Ahmedabad District and especially in 

0stensib Hhod? S f Hve " the cit y . f Ahmedabad they deal in old 

bricks which they obtain from ruins and 

dilapidated buildings. They keep pack bullocks. They are 
not addicted to crime. 

Datanias are sellers of stick brushes for cleaning the teeth 
and beat the tom-tom during marriage festivities for a consider- 
ation. In the rainy season they grow cucumbers, marsh- 
melons (chibdas] and other small vegetables, which their 
women hawk for sale. They are also fowlers. 

Vedoos are cultivators and like Datanias grow vegetables 
in the rainy season. When the monsoon is over they make 
and sell reed ' tatties ' and deal in bamboos. They also 
trade in country tobacco pipes, made in Kathiawad, and keep 
male buffaloes for stud purposes. 

Chunwalias make and sell imitation honey and cultivate 

Kankodias are small cultivators. They also collect and sell 
honey, roots and herbs for medicinal purposes and rear goats. 

Chikadias are inveterate beggars. They are expert in 
exciting the sympathy of credulous and superstitious 
Hindus by pretending either to be suffering from some incur- 
able disease or to be the victims of some serious misfortune 
or that some one of their women is in the pangs of child- 
birth and in need of pecuniary help. They also pretend to be 
scidhus of the Vaghri tribe. 

Patanis trade in young bullocks which they take in droves 
to all parts of Gujeiat and sell to cultivators, giving their 
customers a year's credit. Castration of bullocks is also a 
part of their calling. 

Talabdas are cultivators. They rear goats and sheep, 
serve. as watchmen and are employed as hewers of wood. 
They also deal in mangoes, mhowra flowers and other fruits. 
In the rainy season both men and \vomen take to field 

Dh and arias are cattle dealers, in the monsoon, grow vege- 
tables and trade in mangoes and other fruit in season. They 
are, mostly, well-to-do and not addicted to crime. 


Vaghris as a class take to field labour spasmodically. 
Many, both men and women, have settled in Ahmedabad and 
other large cities where some earn an honest livelihood by 
working in mills or support themselves by rearing small live- 
stock, fishing and snaring ; others again wander about 
begging. They find their way in considerable numbers to 
Bombay during times of scarcity. 

Some Vaghris are expert at snaring ground game and 
animals and keep snares called fandas. They also catch 
wild duck, pelican, and other aquatic birds and serve occa- 
sionally as shikaris to European officers and railway servants. 
They closely imitate bird-calls and other jungle sounds, catch 
birds and induce compassionate Hindus to pay for releasing 

Datanias and Chunwalias and possibly here and there 
members of other classes, travel about the country exhibiting 

Gujerat Vaghris are clever in adopting disguises. Some- 
times they pass themselves off as 

Di>uises adopted and means j^., , ., ir v i /- . 

of identification. Uharalas or Kolis and Girasias and 

the women as Girasins, with the object 

of getting employ in some family and decamping at the first 
opportunity with what they can lay hands on. Elsewhere they 
often pass themselves off as Malis and Phul Malis. They 
occasionally disguise themselves as Banias and Sadhus when 
proceeding to or returning from the scenes of crime. When 
begging, Vaghris frequently assume the garb of ' Jogis ' and 
astrologers. Sometimes one who happens to be fair and 
otherwise suitable for the part, passes himself off as a Thakore 
or some such respectable person, his companions posing as 
servants. In this way an acquaintance with Banias and other 
well-to-do people is struck up with an eye to business on 
dark nights. 

Vaghri women are also said to be able to disguise them-, 
selves as women of the Brahmin, Patidar, Rajput and other 
superior classes with considerable success. 

In a prolonged conversation their language, and when dis- 
cussing and performing religious topics and ceremonies their 
ignorance, and at meals, their greediness, bad manners and 
want of ease, betray their disguise. 


Pilfering, house-breaking, picking pockets and cheating are 
the special forms of crime to which 

Crime to which addicted. T 7 . r . 

Vagnns, as a class, are addicted and in 

which they excel. They occasionally indulge in robbery and 
dacoity. Among Yedoos and Datanias the women are the 
most troublesome. They are specially given to thieving 
among women and children travelling by rail. 

The Vedoos, Datanias, Chunwalias and Patanis living in 
populous towns and cities are greatly addicted to pilfering 
and picking pockets. Talabda Vaghris and their females are 
addicted to thefts of standing crops and are a nuisance to the 

The males are notorious as house-breakers and cheats. 
They are also given to cattle lifting. 

The Patani Vaghris are also given to cattle lifting when a 
convenient opportunity presents itself. An instance or two 
are on record of Vaghri women having been caught on the 
railway in the act of smuggling opium concealed in their 

All criminal divisions of Vaghris follow, more or less, the 

same methods of house-breaking, nil- 
Methods employed in com- . .... , r f 

mining crime and distinguish- fcnng and picking pockets. The last 
ing characteristics likely to men tioned form of crime is confined to 

afford a clue. r . . 

those who trequent towns and cities. 

Vaghris while wandering about begging are always on the 
look-out to pilfer or steal and often while so employed gain 
useful information. When begging in large cities they some- 
times pretend to be deaf and dumb. Thus they excite pity, 
stimulate charity and all the while they spy around and mark 
down suitable houses for their midnight adventures. The 
part of the poor deaf and dumb beggar secures greater facili- 
ties than would otherwise be allowed for prospecting premises 
and at the same time is calculated to save them in awkward 

Other methods they have for acquiring information are for 
the men to go about from house to house with an axe asking 
for wages to chop up wood and through their women who visit 
houses selling vegetables. 

Living scattered in villages they keep in touch with members 
of their community living in neighbouring villages and 
even in those at considerable distances from their own. Thus 
B 51411 


they are able to arrange meeting places and plan the com- 
mission of crime. As a rule they do not associate with other 
castes for criminal purposes, but not infrequently they are 
accompanied on thieving expeditions by ' Talabda ' and 
' Chunvaliya ' Kolis. 

They are dexterous in using the khdfariyd y exhibit 46 of 
the Bombay District Police Museum, vide Plate IV. With 
the end of this instrument they pick out bricks and stones and 
with the crook they wrench off staples of boxes or doors. 

They have been known to get into upper storey rooms by 
climbing up water-pipes and when houses are divided by vcrv 
narrow passages, by wriggling up simply by pushing against 
the opposite walls with back and legs. 

At night they also prowl about and dexterously remove 
ornaments from the persons of those who lie asleep in open 
verandahs. Usually, Vaghris do not use violence in the 
commission of crime. If discovered in the act and pursued 
they will, however, when hard pressed, not hesitate to use 
weapons of offence such as the vdnsi, exhibit 54 of the Bombay 
District Police Museum, vide Plate I, to avoid capture. 

Talabda Vaghris are credited with scruples against stealing 
anything but cash and ornaments, but there is reason to 
believe that they are not so particular. Vaghris, men or 
women, will seldom confess or implicate their confederates. 

When committing burglary they prefer to lift the door 
off its hinges if possible ; if unsuccessful in this they go in 
for the ' bagli ' method of making a hole at the side of 
the door-frame and removing the bolt or chain, or breaking 
through the back wall of the house, the hole made being 
apparently, though not really, too small to admit a man. 
Removing a small window-frame is another favourite mode of 
ingress. A gang intent on burglary does not usually exceed 
five ; a couple enter the building, one or two keep watch out- 
side, while others are at hand to receive what may be passed 
out. Once in the house, the intruders take care to secure a 
speedy retreat by leaving a door or window open. To attract 
each other's attention, the hiss of a serpent or the squeak 
of a mouse is imitated. 

Talabda Vaghris who are reported to be expert burglars, 
visit the houses of their friends in the guise of Banias and 
through them acquire useful information. Sometimes they 


visit the house to be burgled in the day, to mark its situation, 
surroundings etc. They walk about in the streets in an 
unconcerned innocent manner, but if closely watched the shifty 
way they look about and use their eyes betrays them. As a 
rule they do not commit crime in streets in which their 
friends reside. In common with other criminals they prefer 
dark nights for burglaries. 

They have friends among Brahmins, Banias and other 
castes who supply them with information regarding promis- 
ing houses. 

The following are some of the methods adopted by Vaghri 
cheats : They entice some greedy 'receiver' with false or 
genuine ornaments, as the case may be, to some convenient 
spot and there, while the transaction is being carried out, con- 
federates acting the part of policemen put in an appearance. 
The dupe is persuaded to make himself scarce, leaving of 
course the ornaments and cash, till the bargain can be conclud- 
ed on another more favourable occasion ; or, in the anxiety and 
confusion caused by the arrival of the ' police, ' spurious 
ornaments are cleverly substituted for the genuine ones and 
the ( receiver ' is hurried off ; or, yet a third farce enacted is to 
prevail on the ' receiver ' to part with his cash and for them- 
selves to hand over the ornaments to the ' police ' as hush- 
money. Way-laying and robbing the ' receiver ' on his way 
home after the cash and ornaments have changed hands is 
another form of villainy Vaghris are given to. 

Another effective manner of cheating, usually practised in 
big cities, is as follows : The Vaghri having noticed a suitable 
looking victim drops, as a bait in his path, a piece of metal 
coloured and made to look like a small bar of gold freshly cut. 
The victim sees it and picks it up. Now is the time for the 
Vaghri to act. He accosts the finder and claims a share of 
the prize. If the victim refuses, the Vaghri resorts to threats 
of reporting the matter to the police and eventually with some 
reluctance agrees to accept hush-money and to leave the bar 
with the lucky finder. Some rupees pass hands and the victim 
subsequently discovers how he has been duped into paying ten 
or twelve rupees perhaps for a worthless piece of metal. 
Occasionally the culprit has a confederate who comes into the 
game as a mediator at a suitable moment. 

Vaghri women are reported to be very clever in removing 
ornaments from the persons of children. On festive occasions 


among the Hindus, when the dinner is over and the company 
disperses, Vaghri women will also mix with the female guests 
and dexterously remove ornaments from the persons of 
women and children, passing property so stolen rapidly from 
one to another till the article is soon a long way off. They 
even participate in a Brahmin feast, in the guise of Brahmin 
women, dropping in at the last moment, and ply their avocation 
among the women there assembled. 

If Vaghris, men or women, see a child unattended in the 
street, they will offer him sweet-meats or fruit, or show him 
glass marbles and so decoy him to a secluded spot and remove 
ornaments from his person. When begging in the streets they 
will quietly trespass into a house and pilfer what they find 
ready to hand ; if caught, they pretend to be beggars. 

Vaghri women, whether pilfering from houses or on a rail- 
way, usually work in small gangs of two or more. On the 
railway their modus operandi is as follows : Two or three 
of them disguised as women of a superior class enter a 
female compartment of a night train. One of them under 
the pretence that there is no room or because she wishes 
to suckle her child, who is pinched to make it cry, lies down 
on the floor of the compartment and pretends to go to 
sleep. Selecting a bag or a trunk on the floor of the carriage, 
she either cuts it open with a piece of glass or small knife or 
opens the usual flimsy lock with a nail or key. The property 
is handed up to a confederate on the seat above the thief, who 
in turn secretes it between her legs or in a pocket in her petti- 
coat. The women then alight at the first station and decamp. 
A clue to the offence may be obtained by enquiring whether, 
at any stations prior to the one at which the theft was discover- 
ed, any long or short distance tickets have been collected. 
Some of the better looking women are adepts at ingratiating 
themselves with subordinates of the station staff at roadside 
stations frequented by them. 

Instances have been reported where Vaghri women have 
contracted marriages with monied Patidars or Kunbis who for 
social reasons may have found difficulty in securing a wife and 
have lived with them for some time in order to ascertain where 
the duped husband keeps his valuables and money. A 
favourable opportunity occurring, when the husband is away 
from home, the Vaghri woman makes off with all she can lay 
hands on. 


The Vaghri's chief and favourite house-breaking implement 
is called khdtariyd, exhibit 46 of the 

Stock-in-trade, instruments Bombay District Police MuSCUm, Vide 
and weapons used in commit- _., , J . . . . _. . . ' 

ting crime. rlate IV, or ganesniyu. Ihis instru- 

ment is about eighteen inches in 

length, and has a crook at one end and the other is flattened 
and sharpened like a chisel. 

Some other weapons and paraphernalia that they carry 
when committing crime are a mnjanoo (chisel), kariydli dhdng t 
exhibit 26 of the Bombay District Police Museum, vide Plate I, 
which is a weighted club or lathi with a number of iron rings 
at one end, knife, the vdnsi, exhibit 54 of the Bombay District 
Police Museum, vide Plate I, a dharia (sharp bill-hook), 
exhibit 31 of the Bombay District Police Museum, vide Plate I, 
a bunch of keys, match box and candles. The Vaghri woman's 
aids to crime are some keys and a small bag under the arm- pit 
in which she stows away stolen articles and on railways a 
piece of glass or a small knife for cutting open hand luggage. 

Stolen property is usually buried in the fields and is not 
disposed of till two or three months 

Ways and means of conceal- a f ter tne crime. It is turned into cash 
ing and disposing or stolen , , T-> ' i /-.-. T\ 

property. through ratidars, Girasias, Banias, 

Rajputs, village pdtils, and gold- 
smiths, but now-a-days chiefly through Memon hawkers from 
Kathiawad who perambulate Gujerat selling perfumes, small 
jewellery, pearls, cloth etc., and are specially useful as ' receiv- 
ers,' their tin boxes being peculiarly suited as receptacles for 
the temporary deposit of stolen jewellery. 

When away from home if a good haul is made, some of the 
women are occasionally employed to convey the ' loot ' home 
by rail. 

When searching the male or female of this caste the 
private parts of the suspect should not be overlooked, as like 
Chhapparbands and Baoris, Vaghris are in the habit of secret- 
ing small articles in natural passages. 

The petticoats of Vaghri women, which are often provided 
with cunningly secreted pockets, and the tamboora or 
ek-tdra (one-stringed musical instrument) of the begging 
Vaghri, should also be carefully investigated. 

A Vaghri encampment should be ploughed up before a 
search is given up. Success in an important venture is often 
marked by feasting, drinking and revelry in which ' Bhuvas ' 
are invited to participate. 


Waddars are of Telegu origin. They are divided into 

Name of criminal class thfi f o H ow i ng sub-divisions :- 

Mann Waddar or Mati Waddar (earth-workers). 
Bhandi Waddar or Gadi Waddar (cart-men) . 

Kail Waddar, Pathrat, Janti or Dagdi Waddar (stonr- 
dressers) known in Madras as Issurraye (i.e., 
grinding stone) Waddars. 

Ghatti Waddar, also known as Donga (thief) or Takka 
(cheat) Waddar. 

They are found scattered all over the Deccan, the 
Carnatic and parts of the Konkan, in 

Habitat. . 

this Presidency. 

As a class, Waddars are migratory, making temporary 

encampments at places where they 

Sphere of activity and wan- obtain work. Some of the Mann and 

dering proclivities. . .. ..... i i 

the Bhandi sub-divisions are settled in 

Bhandi and Ghatti Waddars, more criminal than the rest of 
the class, will ordinarily go thirty miles or so from their encamp- 
ments to commit dacoity. Their house-breaking operations are 
confined to a radius of eight to fifteen miles from their dwellings. 
If they mark down a house to be burgled or raided at a greater 
distance than they can conveniently cover in. a day or two, they 
will, if the pdtil be friendly and not likely to make inconvenient 
enquiries during their absence, leave their encampment and go 
a hundred miles or so in pursuit of crime, but such instances are 
rare. They do not commit crime in the village in which they 
reside nor in the limits of which they are encamped, and 
usually go outside the taluka to commit serious crime. 

The Bombay Presidency census 

Population according to last report of IQOI givCS the following 
census, and distribution. ,, l , , , ir , i , 

figures or the Waddar population : 

Males Fcni 

Thana ... ... 618 507 

Kathiawad ... ... 92 So 

Ahinrdiiagar ... ... 3,237 ^13 

Khandesh ... ... 1,213 l >3 2 




Nasik ... ... 60 1 

Poona ... ... 1,492 

Satara ... ... 1,853 

Sholapur . . ... 2,999 

Native States ... ... 633 

Belgaum ... 3,413 

Bijapur .. ... 6,218 

Dharwar ... ... 8,795 

Kanara ... ... 1,556 

Kolaba ... ... 227 

Native States ... ... 4,552 

37.499 36,544 


Waddars are of fine physique, dark complexion, capable 

of much endurance, and generally hard- 
Appearance, dress, etc. .. p J ,. 

working. As a class they are dirty, 

thriftless and hard drinkers, eat every description of animal 
food including village pig and are specially fond of rats. They 
however eschew beef. They smoke ganja and tobacco. 

Like other depressed classes they wear scanty clothing. 
The male's dress consists of a dhotar (loin-cloth) or cholna 
(short drawers), angi or pairan (shirt), a rumal or a piece 
of cloth for the head, and a hachda (coarse sheet), kambal 
(blanket) or shoulder-cloth worn over the shoulders. Men do 
not wear shoes. 

Women dress in a sari with the upper end passed over the 
head and across the bosom ; they do not wear the bodice, 
nor glass bangles on the right hand ; they wear brass or kdsa 

Bhandi Waddars wander about the country, encamp 
outside villages, live in huts made of mat, grass etc., screens 
being fixed across the open ends. They are accompanied by 
women and children, and use their characteristic, low, solid- 
wheeled carts. 

Kail Waddars camp near the village live in pals made of 
patch-work cloth, seldom in mat huts, are accompanied by 
their families, pack donkeys etc. 

Ghatti Waddars encamp about a mile or two from the 
village, usually in the forest or on waste lands, live in bamboo 
screen huts, openings being covered with mats, and are 
accompanied by their families, pack asses, goats etc. 


Mann Waddars are mostly settled in villages. 
Waddar encampments are known in the Carnatic as 
gumpjis, each having a ' naik ' or ' peddadoo ' who is the 
head-man in matters both social and criminal. 

Social disputes are decided by the head-man and panchdyat 
or council of elders. 

Among themselves Waddars speak a corrupt form of 
Telegu. They can also speak the 

Dialect and peculiarities Marathi or Canarese of the lower 

orders according to the district they 
live in. 

The following are some of the slang 

bums' and signs used. . , , ,,, , , , , 

expressions used by Waddars of the 
Carnatic : 

Slang. Meaning. 

shilakatti ... house-breaking implement, 

mullawadu ... constable, 

manaklu ... hole, 

dongpani, \valkamu ... stolen pioperty. 

parmeshvar ... higher official of the police etc. 

nematu ... villagers or village authorities, 

peradu ... house, 

kottalu or unsalu ... beating or raiding, 

peradu unsalu ... house dacoity. 

dong ... theft, 

peddadoo ... leader of the gang. 

A broad line drawn with the side of the foot in soft earth 
and ending with a foot-print pointing to the direction taken, is 
the means Ghatti Waddars employ at cross roads or turnings 
to indicate to others of the community coming behind, the 
route taken. 

Mann Waddars cultivate land, are field labourers, sink 

wells, dig tanks and do earth -work 

Ostensible means of live- f or villagers. They are also largely 

lihood. , ? . J . . i fe i 

employed on road-repairing and earth- 
work of all kinds. 

Bhandi Waddars are quarrymen and carry the stones on 
their distinctive carts described above, are largely employed by 
the Public Works Department on road -making, etc., sink wells, 
dig tanks and a few are cultivators. 

Kail Waddars are stone-masons, make grinding- stones and 
other stone articles of domestic use ; their females rechisel 
grinding stones. Members of this class are generally well- 


Ghatti Waddars live entirely on the proceeds of crime. 

Waddars also snare and kill pig and are often employed by 
the villagers to rid their crops, sugarcane, etc., of these pests. 

Women assist the men in earning a livelihood. 

Disguises are not adopted by Waddars. Signals are 

exchanged by whistles and gestures. 

Disguises adopted and means When committing dacoities they muffle 

of identification. i r j i i- i i 

their races and, in localities where they 

are likely to be recognized, smear both face and chest with 
lime. Waddars of the criminal divisions' will endeavour to pass 
themselves off as belonging to one of the honest labouring 
sub-divisions of the class. 

Mann Waddars go in specially for house-breaking, steal- 

.cri me to which addicted. '" field Police opening grain-pits 

and petty thetts. Iney rarely commit 
more serious offences. 

Bhandi Waddars are expert burglars. They also indulge in 
sheep lifting and petty thefts. Occasionally they commit 
dacoity or robbery. 

Kail Waddars are said to be the least criminal of all the 
sub-divisions, though some, now and again, take to burglary, 
sheep lifting, etc. They do not, as a rule, commit serious 

Ghatti Waddars are credited with being the most criminal 
of the class. They commit house or highway dacoity, robbery, 
house-breaking, sheep lifting, theft, etc. Their women and 
children are also given to pilfering, and attend markets and 
fairs for the purpose. 

The males will also sometimes exploit villages in the 
neighbourhood of their encampments at night and remove 
ornaments from off persons found sleeping outside houses. 

Waddars have no prejudice against admitting other castes 
into their gangs or joining with others in the commission of 

House Dacoity. 

Information is obtained through local bad characters with 
whom Ghatti Waddars take care to 

Methods employed in com- ., r j i i it i 

mitting crime and distinguish- Strike Up friendship, through DOyS who 

ing characteristics likely to are sent ostensibly to beg, Or thfOUgh 

afford a clue. , , J . . . 

the women who visit houses under the 


pretence of retouching grinding-stones. On such occasions 
the females are accompanied by lads or old men who after- 
wards serve as guides to the able-bodied members of the gang 
who subsequently commit the dacoity. If the information so 
acquired requires verification, or if details are wanting, some 
member of the gang will visit the village with donkeys on the 
pretext of looking for one that has strayed and he then takes 
stock of the house and its situation. After this has been done, 
the encampment is moved to a distant village. Gangs are 
usually formed of from ten to fifteen members, sometimes more, 
either from one gumpu (tdndci) or more. These assemble 
and discuss the plan of action. This decided on, a meeting 
place in the vicinity of the scene of the proposed crime and 
the exact time for assembling at that place are fixed. To 
concentrate at the rendezvous the members of the gang travel 
in twos and threes and by different roads at night, resting or 
hiding during the day. When all are assembled the leader or 
' peddadoo ' allots to each the part he has to play ; some are 
detailed to throw stones, others to guard the lanes and 
approaches, while the more experienced and courageous, under 
the ' peddadoo,' are told off to rush the house and sack it. 
Superfluous clothes are left behind at the rendezvous, faces are 
besmeared, if necessary, with ashes or lime, dhotars braced up, 
a kachha or girdle tied round the waist, and a kambal or some 
coarse cloth tied over the shoulders and round the waist to 
carry stones. They arm themselves with lathis, stones, 
slings, and carry one or two torches. After nightfall when 
houses are still open, the gang proceeds to the village, attacks 
the house, belabours the occupants and decamps with the 
booty. Women are not, as a rule, ill-treated and the mangal- 
sntra, the Hindu married woman's insignia, and toe-rings 
are never touched. The dacoity over, the gang leaves the 
house and once outside the village, after the ' peddadoo ' has 
satisfied himself that all are present, makes for the rendezvous 
where the clothes have been left. Here every member of the 
gang produces what he has secured and is carefully searched 
by the ' peddadoo.' Stolen property is given in charge of 
a trustworthy member or two with whom it remains till it is 
disposed of. 

Pdn~siipdri bags and such other articles belonging to 
Lambanis and other castes are thrown at or near the scene of 
the crime to divert suspicion and mislead the police. Great 
violence is used if property is not immediately delivered or the 
hiding place of jewellery not shown. If resistance is offered 



Waddars will go to any length in self defence and even 
commit murder. 

As a rule only one house is attacked in a single expedition. 
Highway Dacoity. 

Scouts are posted on the highways near villages, at landing 
places, dharamsdldS) etc., to, look out for travellers or convey- 
ances worth looting. The main body, which lies in wait in a 
nallah, culvert, or some rough country affording concealment 
is thus apprized in good time of the approach of their 
quarfy and in due course the gang rushes out of its hiding 
place and commences operations. Bullocks are unyoked, con- 
veyances tipped up, passengers belaboured, valuables snatched 
away, boxes broken open and rifled and the booty carried off to 
some out-of-the-way spot in the near vicinity of the scene of 
attack. If successful the gang retreats to its encampment ; 
but if the attempt fails or the booty secured is not sufficiently 
valuable, the gang shifts ground and tries its luck again. 

Highway dacoities are generally committed before dusk 
and at daybreak and outside a radius of ten miles or so 
from the encampment. 


Usually committed after midnight during the dark half of 
the month, either in the ' bagli ' or ' rumali ' fashion with a knife 
for scraping out the mud between stones and the implement 
known in the Carnatic as kangatti, exhibit 40, Bombay District 
Police Museum, vide Plate IV, or by means of a crowbar. The 
clumsy blunt marks of the latter instrument on a house indicate 
the workmanship of Waddars. The gang usually consists of 
from two to five persons. If unsuccessful at one house they will 
try their hands at others. Waddars are very dexterous and 
quick at making a hole in a wall and burglary is looked upon 
as a pleasurable diversion. 

They will not, as a rule, confess or implicate one another. 

Should the inmates of a burgled house remember to have 
heard a noise as of scraping which was put down at the time 
to rats or some other natural cause and an encampment of 
Waddars is known to be in vicinity, endeavours to seek the 
culprits among the Waddars should be made, as the noise 
may have been caused by the use of the knife to remove mud 
or plaster from between stones or bricks in the wall before 
bringing the more formidable implement into play. 


\\"hen committing robberies Waddars are usur.lly armed 

with stout sticks, slings, stones and 

in-trade, instruments knives and they often carry torches. 

and weapons used in commit- ,~, ... * , . J . . . 

tmgcrime. 1 heir implements of house-breaking 

are the kangatti or a crowbar. 

Stolen property is as a rule, immediately after crime, 
deposited with a trusted member of 

Ways and means ot conceal- t ne gang who USUally buries it in a 
ing or disposing of stolen r i j r i 

property. held, torest, or some such convenient 

spot in the vicinity of the encampment. 

Later, it is disposed of to friendly goldsmiths, saivkars, 
villagers, or liquor-vendors. 

Stolen jewellery is never distributed as such. It is turned 
into cash, the ' peddadoo ' (leader) of the gang and the 
custodian of the property being entitled to larger shares 
than other members. 

Stolen property is seldom recovered from the possession 
of Waddars. 

A Dehliwal, Bauriah 'kamaoo' on the move. 


Bowris or Bauriahs. 

Of all the foreign criminals who frequent this Presidency, 

there is probably no class which 

Name of criminal class surpasses the Bauriah in skill and 

or tribe. *. . *, /~ .1 

pertinacity. Major Ounthorpe gives 

the Bauriah the cognomen of ' Badak ' and states that the 
Vaghris of Gujerat, also the Pardhis of the Deccan, are 
offshoots of this tribe. Certainly the dialects of these tribes, 
though living far apart, have much resemblance, so also tribal 
sub-divisions, some superstitions and customs. 

The divisions of the class to be met with in this Presidency 
are : 


Malpura or Kerowli. 
Khairwada or Kerara. 

Marwada Bowri (distinct from the Marwadi Baori 
coiner described in a separate note). 

In addition to the above there are the Panjabi and the 
Malwi or Moghia Bowri, but the former of these is believed 
not to frequent this Presidency at all. 

The clan names of the various classes of Bowris are 
similar to those of Rajputs, the following being among the 
best known : 



The Dehliwal Bowris hail from Muzaffarnagar, Malpuras 

Habitat from Bhopal, Khairwadas from Gwa- 

lior, Badaks from Bhopal and United 

Provinces, Marwadas from Marwar, Panjabis from the Panjab 
and Moghias from Malwa. 


There is no limit to the Bauriah's field of activity, Ceylon 
alone being immune from his excur- 
an - sions. The Moghia, so far as this 
Presidency is concerned, does not, it is 
believed, penetrate further than Gujerat and Khandesh. 

The Bauriah plies his calling in village, town or city in all 
parts of the Presidency with equal impartiality, small villages 
at which he halts alone being exempt for the time being. 

During the monsoon season the Bauriah remains more or 
less inactive. He either returns to his home up-country 
before the monsoon breaks, or takes shelter in or near some 
Native State or lies low at some place where he has reason to 
feel secure from inconvenient enquiries. With the cessation of 
the rains the class begins wandering again and expeditions are 
planned and embarked on. 

To commit a lucrative burglary Bowris will travel as much 
as forty miles in the twenty-four hours. When exploiting the 
country, Bowris travel in gangs of varying strength but usually 
do not exceed ten. In large cities and at important centres 
these gangs concentrate and, till suspicion is roused by their 
numbers and movements, work together. 

Every gang is headed by a leader styled by Dehliwals and 
Marwadas ' kamaoo ' ; by Malpuras ' kadoo ' ; by Badaks 
' upkare,' and ' jamadar ' by Moghias. Among Dehliwals 
and Malpuras the gang consists of a ' kamaoo,' or ' kadoo/ 
1 pitwaris ' (the rank and file of the gang who commit thefts), 
' bhandari ' (cook) and ' kothari ' (one who does odd jobs such 
as washing pots, clothes, etc.) 

Badak, Marwada, and Khairwada gangs are usually 
accompanied by families ; Dehliwals only occasionally ; Mal- 
puras and Moghias never. For the transport of their families 
Badaks use ponies, donkeys, buffaloes or cows ; Khairwadas 
bullocks only ; Marwadas and Dehliwals ponies. Moghia 
gangs are sometimes in possession of a camel or two. 

With the exception of Khairwada and Marwada Bauriahs 
who, as a rule, boldly put up inside towns and villages in 
temples, dharamsdlas or serais, Bauriahs of all divisions 
prefer to lurk in the outskirts or environs, either in the open in 
or near some garden or tope of trees in the vicinity of water, 
or, in some secluded temple, math or other convenient 
resting place. 


During the rains Dehliwals if accompanied by their families 
sometimes pitch pals ; Badaks invariably live in pals all the 
year round. 

No statistics are available in respect to the Bauriah popu- 

Popuiation and distribution. lation in the Bombay Presidency. 

The Moghia is in appearance and dress very similar to the 
ordinary cultivator of Central India. 

Appearance, dress, etc. ~ '. , . . , ,. ~ 

lo an inhabitant or this Presidency 

he would most resemble the Banjara of Khandesh or the 
Labhana of the Panch Mahals. 

For the rest Bauriahs as a class are strong, well built, and 
of medium stature, with coarse features. Their complexion 
varies between sallow and dark. They are active, keen of 
sense and inured to hardships and fatigue. The female 
Bowrin is generally sallow or wheat- coloured and often not 
without claims to good-looks. Their morals are not above 
suspicion, though it is unusual for them to misconduct them- 
selves with men outside their own caste. The women do not 
actually participate in crime, but are always well informed and 
assist in the disposal of the property and in procuring legal 
and other assistance when their husbands are in trouble. 

Khairwada women are cleaner, better dressed and more 
refined looking than the females of the other divisions. 
Badaks are said to have one, two or three scars or burns on 
the inside of their left wrists, the statement has not how- 
ever been verified. 

As the Bauriahs (Moghias excepted) met with in this 
Presidency are generally if not always in disguise, a description 
of their customary home attire is not of much practical use, 
but one or two peculiarities may be instructive. The Bauriah 
will never wear dhoti and langoti together. As a rule he 
wears a dhoti ten cubits in length or an angocha (a short 
dhotar] measuring six cubits. Both are tied in a peculiar 
fashion, the former displaying more of the right thigh, the 
latter of the left. For the rest he wears a kurta or shirt and 
a large feita or head-scarf tied in the up-country fashion. 
Marwada Bauriahs sometimes wear the Rajput kada on the 
right ankle. Badaks, though similar in their dress to other 
branches of the Bauriah class, are in appearance, dress and 
habits the dirtiest and most untidy of all. Bauriah women 
in their home up-country wear petticoat or ghagra, odni or 
head-scarf and kanchli or bodice fastened at the back, or 


siitna (trousers) instead of a skirt, with a unrja'i or coat 
over the bodice and ornaments of the up-country fashion. 
Down-country a coarse sari takes the place of petticoat or 

Tattooing among females is largely indulged in, most of 
them having a dot or two or some lines at the corners of the 
eyes, at the side of the nose, below the lower lip, as well as on 
the knuckles, wrists and arms. 

Moghias, both men and women, closely resemble in dress 
and appearance Marwar Rajputs, though perhaps they are 
not so clean or well dressed. 

At home Bauriahs cook their food in earthen vessels, but 
abroad, as they travel in the guise of Sadhus, they adopt, 
Badaks perhaps excepted, the customs in vogue among 
Sadhus, and as a rule use metal utensils, unless accompanied 
by families, when earthen cooking pots are used. They eat 
all flesh except that of the cow and are addicted to drink. 
They smoke tobacco and gdnja and some eat opium. They 
generally live well. Experience in this Presidency goes to 
show that the old superstitious prejudices among some classes 
of the Dehliwal Bauriahs against touching iron, wearing red 
and blue cloth and eating vermicelli, cocoanut and so on, no 
longer exist. With the exception of the lowest of the de- 
pressed classes, Bauriahs admit all castes into their own, and 
instances are not wanting of individuals of good social position 
having become Bauriahs, usually as the outcome of a love 
affair with some attractive Bauriah woman. 

A successful raid is followed by feasting, drinking and 

The Bauriah dialect is a mixture of corrupt Hindi and 
Gujerati, with the peculiarity that ' s ' 
<t 3*S3! W is pronounced as ' kh.' It is suffi- 

ciently hybrid to prevent the uniniti- 
ated understanding it ; being copiously interlarded with slang 
expressions, it affords the class a means of inter-communica- 
tion with secrecy in the presence of strangers. With slight 
variations it is in use among all divisions of Bauriahs. 

Defying grammar they make ' khdbagddi khdchi vat ko 
kahw ma ' out of ' sdheb ke age sack bnt mat bolo ' (do not tell 
the truth before saheb). Spoken with a sing-song twang 
peculiar to the Bauriah, the language may well be termed a 
thieves' jargon. 


They can speak ^Hindustani fluently ; Moghias can also 
speak the Malwi language. 

The following are some of the slang words and expressions 
siang and signs used. commonly used among Bauriahs : 

By Dehliwdls, Khairwddas and Mdlpuras. 

Slang. Meaning, 

datoni or netri ... knife, 

pida . . . gold 

dhowli ... silver, 

nakoni ... nose-ring, 

bhaji ... meat, 

kaladi ... liquor, 

dando ... road, 

gomti ... night, 

bhogi .. property, loot, 

gyan or gyandas ... implement for house-breaking, 

terwa or tarkada ... sepoy, 

mandlon , .. a gang 

phodi gero ... ~\ 

todi gero ... > break it up. 

chagdi gero ... 3 

gali gero ... melt it down, 

goddo marto avie ... obliterate the foot-prints, 

terwa thai awe se ek ek a sepoy is coming, disperse and 

ghakh khai jao. run away, 

hette kari gero ... put it underneath or bury, 

kamaoo, kadoo ... leader of the gang, 

koldakh ... be on the alert, 

balka- ... hieroglyphics, 

asan ... halting place, 

ujhanto ... snatch ornaments (from the per- 
sons of sleeping females), 

took . . . bread, 

jamno ... right, 

dawo ... left. 

By B a daks. 

mankho or nrinkhiya ... man. 

mankhi ... woman, 

rokhlo ... bread, 

dhori . . . silver, 

netri ... knife, 

bawan ... kinswoman, 

kali bhor . . . sepoy, 

mota modno avi gayo ... an officer has come, 

khabar thai gai ... a clue has been obtained, 

khati jao ... hide yourself, 

ramai do ... make away with it. 
i 51412 


By Badaks contd. 

Slang. Meaning. 

ya mai kachu nahi iharka- ) . 

. Q \ I cannot find the property. 

ek jane ale lido ... a man has been arrested. 

mane jhal lido ... they have arrested me. 

gyan or gyandas ... the jemmy of the Badak. 

hiro chudave le ... let us rescue him. 

upar pada ... dacoity. 

khoi ja ... go to sleep. 

gyan ko thai nai ... the jemmy has not gone through. 

khankro or charandasi ... pair of shoes. 

patakri ... gun. 

terwa ... chowkidar. 

londriya pokhi raho ... a dog is barking. 

talaro or khapakni ... sword. 

pilo ... gold. 

By some other divisions. 

bhindia or bhindo ... man. 

bhindi ... woman. 

kajli ,,. theft, 

santo ... burglary. 

daulatia ... the jemmy of the Baori. 

tanai liya ... In* was arrested. 

bajhad lo ... rescue him. 

nahi hadlo ... run away. 

hara . . . dacoity. 

nakhalya or gangaram ... pair of shoes. 

bhutkani ... rifle. 

nokia ... chowkidar. 

bajtaido . . . hide the article. 

naiteri ... sword. 

ram raj ... gold. 

bawan ... kinswoman. 

bakti ... knife. 

kali bhor ... sepoy. 

khaura or bajniya (kaldar) . rupcf. 

clabuwa ... double paisa. 

Dehliwal and Malpura Bauriahs have an interesting 
system of hieroglyphics or cabalistic signs which they make 
in charcoal as a rule, on the walls of houses, dharanjsdlds ) 
temples, at important corners, ferries, bridges or cross-roads, 
and on the ground by the roadside with a stick, if no building 
is handy, as a means of inter-communication between gangs 
and with one another. 

It is not known what other sub-divisions or how many of 
the Bauriahs are initiated into the mysteries of these symbols 



or whether different gangs have different signs, but the 
following are known to be in use. The commonest is a 
loop, thus - 


the straight end indicating the direction a gang or individual 
has taken. The addition of a number of vertical strokes 
signifies the number of males in the gang, thus 


When the strokes representing the strength of a gang are 
enclosed by a circle, thus 

it means that a gang is encamped in the vicinity, intends to 
return and all is well. 

A square surrounded by a circle to which a line is joined, 

means to those in the know, that property has been secured 
by friends who have left in the direction pointed by the line. 
(The square is intended to represent a box.) 

It is said that Bauriahs follow up one another for fifty or 
even a hundred miles with the help of these hieroglyphics. 
The signs are bold marks sometimes even a foot or more in 
length and are made where they will at once catch the eye. 
In their country Bauriahs, with perhaps the exception of 
Badaks, support themselves it is said, 
tensib hhod ns ' b y fi eld labour, cultivation and selling 

fuel, grass etc., and many it is under- 
stood are law-abiding and prosperous. Among some of the 
classes men are also employed as village watchmen and 


Badaks however, as a class, appear to follow no honest 
pursuit for a livelihood anywhere, though in Malwa and the 
United Provinces it is believed some live by grass-cutting and 
cultivation on a small scale. 

In this Presidency the Bauriahs' (Khairwadas and Moghias 
excepted) ostensible means of livelihood is begging. Khair- 
wadas and a few'Malpuras and Dehliwals also hawk scented 
oil, mixtures and pills to which are ascribed potent properties. 

Moghias met with in this Presidency have no ostensible 
means of livelihood. They do not come to stay but on some 
specific criminal expedition and are therefore well provided 
with funds. 

Dehliwal, Malpura, Badak and Marwada Bauriahs in this 
Presidency are generally, if not always, 

Disgu 'ond,Sio n n mea " s disguised as Bairagis or Gosavis 

(those with women and children as 

the latter), in whose prayers, religious habits, ceremonials and 
incantations some are very expert. All are, however, very 
clever in their get up, mark their foreheads with ashes or 
gopichandan ) wear tulsi or nidrdksha mala (string of beads) 
round the neck, and carry about the usual paraphernalia 
of the real Sadhu including chimta (tongs) and begging bowl 
(kamandal}. Generally two or three in a gang read and 
drone out long pieces from Tulsi Krit Ramayana, and other 
religious books. At this Malpuras are particularly good. 
Some shave their heads, others allow their hair to grow, and 
affix 'das' (if posing as Bairagis) or 'gir' (if as Gosavis) to 
their names. They invariably have tv\o names, one given by 
their parents and the other by their guru. Most Dehliwals, 
Malpuras and Marwadas have the Dwarka or Ajodhia chhtips 
or the brands of the religious visitor to these shrines, on the 
upper arm. 

Bauriahs are such adepts at the Sadhus' disguise that 
ordinary people are rarely able to penetrate them and even 
Sadhus themselves are taken in. It is only by the Bauriahs' 
style of living, what he eats and drinks and by his manners 
generally that he can be distinguished from the bona fide 
Sadhu who in these respects differs totally from the spurious 
article. They sometimes give themselves away by incorrect 
marks or tilaks on their foreheads, a mistake in the knot of 
the sacred thread, or in some other small but essential detail 
in the disguise. 


Bauriahs cook and eat together and indulge in intoxicating 
drinks, consume flesh openly and as explained above, with the 
exception of Khairwadas and Marwadas, always live outside 
villages and towns. Real Sadhus, whose role they adopt, 
differ in these respects as under. 

Both Gosavis and Bairagis put up in villages and though 
the former cook and eat meat they will not do so in company 
nor openly, nor will they drink liquor. Real Bairagis of course 
do not touch flesh or liquor at all. True Sadhus. if forced by 
circumstances to cook on a road, as they sometimes are when 
on a pilgrimage, will each cook and eat his own meal 

Moreover, parties of true Sadhus are usually made up 
of individuals from different parts of the country with different 
dialects and more or less showing some difference in cast of 
countenance etc. The individuals constituting Bauriah gangs 
disguised as Sadhus have a general uniform appearance, 
dialect, manners and customs which to the practised eye 
should excite suspicion and betray them. There is how- 
ever reason to believe that Bauriahs have to some extent 
in recent years changed their tactics in respect to adopting 
the disguise of a Sadhu in his brick-coloured garments 
owing to the fact that this disguise is more or less a matter of 
common knowledge. 

Marwadas besides posing as Sadhus also pretend to be 
up-country Brahmins, Sanjogi Bairagis, and accept, both men 
and women, employment as water carriers and domestic 
servants in respectable houses. In this way they will live for 
months and even years in a town, meeting and committing 
crime in company at night and following their ostensible 
avocation during the day. Sometimes they are to be met with 
carrying across their shoulders ' kavads ' supposed to contain 
' Ganga-jal ' or the sacred water of the Ganges. This device 
not only disarms suspicion but gains them access to respect- 
able well-to-do households. 

The Badak's favourite disguise is perhaps that of a 
Ramanandi Bairagi. 

Moghias are believed to pass themselves off as Banjaras, 
but no instances of this kind have been reported in this 

One means of identifying Bauriahs may possibly be found 
in the typical family dev carried about by these people 
when wandering with their families. It consists of some 


grains of wheat and the seeds of a creeper known as ' ma- 
markhi ' greased over with ghi, enclosed in a brass or copper 
dabbi (receptacle), a peacock feather, and bell, all wrapped 
up in a pair of sheets of white cloth each measuring 2$ by 
2 cubits, the outer -of which bears the imprint of a hand dipped 
in goat's blood. The whole is again rolled up in two pieces 
of red cloth [khdrva] of the same dimensions as the white 
and tied in a bundle. This dev is hung on a wall, if the 
party is putting up in a building, or is used as a pillow by a 
Bauriah male if encamped in the open. At home the dev 
is suspended from the ceiling of a room. Being an object of 
veneration great care is taken that it may not be contaminated. 
None but a male Bauriah or a high caste Hindu may touch 
the dev. Badaks, Marwadas, Khairwadas and Moghias 
include small jingling balls or bells in the bundle and 
call the whole devi, probably because of the fact that they 
are worshippers of devt t especially ' Kalka Devi.' 

Bauriahs change their names frequently. When moving 
in gangs the leaders pose as gurus and the rest as chehis. 

Their halting place is called by them dsan. 

In this Presidency, the Dehliwal, Malpura and Khairwada 
Bowris' only forms of crime are house- 

Crime to which addicted. , .. i i < i i i_ i 

breaking and theft by night, which 

when aggravated by violence develop into robbery or dacoity, 
as the case may be, and sheep-lifting by night. They do not 
commit crime during the day. Badaks are addicted to thefts 
of all kinds, whether by day or night, house-breaking, cattle- 
lifting and crop- stealing. Badaks, women and children 
included, are also addicted to pilfering but are not experts in 
the sense the Bhamptas are. Sometimes they will indulge 
in highway robbery though not of a serious kind. 

Moghias are burglars, dacoits, highwaymen, cattle-lifters 
and crop-raiders. 

Marwadas are given to house-breaking, highway robbery 
and dacoity, cattle-lifting and cheating. 

But house-breaking and theft by night is the speciality of 
all Bauriahs frequenting this Presidency. 

Dehliwals are also expert tent thieves. 

According to the Bengal Police Code, Vol. 1 ot 1897, 
Panjabi Bowris " call themselves ' khaswallas-' or diggers of 
khas-khas. Their women frequent fairs and gatherings, 
where they pick pockets and steal ornaments irom children. 


They take service with ladies and even go to live with rich 
men as their mistresses, in order afterwards to give information 
as to where valuables may be found. They are very expert 
in concealing money and small articles about their persons, 
and even swallow them. They actively resist the police 
when an attempt is made to search a village or camp. They 
thieve in disguises and are forgers and counterfeiters of coin." 

Solitary Bauriahs of the Malpura, Marwada and Badak 
divisions are believed sometimes to indulge in administering 
stupefying drugs to railway travellers. 

Bauriahs set out from their homes or from their monsoon 
quarters, towards the end of the rains 

Methods employed in com- L . ' . f ... ., , . 

mining crime, and distinguish- Or in the month OI KaitlK, On What 

ing characteristics likely to j s known as ' ramath,' in other words 

afford a clue. ... .. .' 

their criminal expeditions, and usually 
in the month of ( Ashad ' return home or lie low somewhere. 

The gangs (mdndlas or girohs] are formed by the 
' jamadar,' ' kadoo,' ' upkare ' or ' kamaoo,' as the case 
may be. Their ostensible places of pilgrimage are (i) Jagan- 
nathji on the east coast, (2) Trimbakji in the Nasik District, 
(3) Dvvarka in Kathiawad, (4) Rameshwar in .Madras, 
(5) Gangaji (Hardwar), (6) Prayag or Allahabad, (7) Ajodhia 
near Fyzabad, (8) Kashi or Benares, and (9) Onkarji near 
Indore ; but crime is their sole object and by their success or 
otherwise in this respect their movements are regulated. 

While ostensibly on their way to one or other of these 
religious resorts, they put up in the outskirts of towns and 
villages and by means of their disguise obtain an intimate 
knowledge of suitable dwellings to be burgled. They do not 
obtain information from strangers or admit any into their 
confidence ; the leader or some clever member ( ( pitwadi ') of 
the gang reconnoitres the town or village and acquaints 
himself with all necessary details regarding the house to be 
burgled and the locality. The bright half of the month is 
spent in roaming about examining the exterior of houses and 
prospecting ; the dark half in executing. 

Bauriahs intuitively possess and by long practice have 
developed to an extraordinary degree, the power of estimating 
whether or not a dwelling is worth exploiting and whether a 
midnight venture is likely to prove a successful undertaking. 

Their method of obtaining information is as follows : A 
gang having encamped at a village during moonlight nights, 
the ' kamaoo ' and one or two of the more accomplished 


' pitvvadis,' or the ' kamaoo ' alone, start off singly in different 
directions to prospect towns and neighbouring villages. They 
will beg from door to door, make mental notes of premises, 
approaches, nature of the building and apparent affluence 
or otherwise of the occupants. Khairwadas do not operate in 
small villages. They work in large towns and by house-to- 
house visitation under the pretext of selling medicines and 
oils, acquaint themselves with all necessary information about 
promising dwellings. 

The women of the house naturally attend to them and 
while accepting alms from them the Bauriah takes particular 
stock of the jewellery they are wearing. 

Having thus marked down suitable houses, the gang moves 
on a few miles and encamps again and prospects the neighbour- 
hood in a similar manner, and so on till the dark nights arrive, 
taking care not to get too far away from villages where 
promising houses have been noted. During the three or four 
darkest nights of the month is the time for action with 
Bauriahs. They then go back on their tracks and burgle one 
or more ot the nouses marked down in the manner described 
above. The number of houses burgled depends on the 
success or otherwise of the operations. 

A large haul in the first house may lead to the postpone- 
ment or abandonment of attempts on others. In a large town 
a gang will call a halt for three, four or even six months, pros- 
pect during the bright half of the month and operate during the 
dark nights and so on till they are discovered by the police 
or they have obtained their fill in the shape of ' loot.' But 
whether in city, town or village, Bauriahs will never attack any 
house unless it is so situated as to afford reasonable 
facilities for approach unobserved and speedy retreat after the 
commission of the burglary. Houses surrounded by narrow 
lanes and roads which could be blocked in case of alarm 
and in which the culprits could be entrapped are studiously 

The above describes the methods of Dehliwals, Malpuras, 
Badaks and Khairwadas. 

A filthy habit indulged in by some criminals, local and 
foreign, is that of defecating on the floor in one of the rooms 
of a house burgled before leaving. The act is supposed to 
safeguard the culprits against detection and is ascribed com- 
monly to Badaks, Chunvalia Kolis, Waddars, Pasis from 


Hindustan and Marwar Naiks, though it is doubtful whether it 
is characteristic of any particular tribe or class. 

The methods of Marwadas who travel and live in the 
disguise of Sadhus, in respect to obtaining information and 
committing crime, do not vary from those of Khairwadas ; but 
as regards Marwadas who travel with their families, pass them- 
selves off as Brahmins and accept domestic service, they take 
advantage of the opportunities afforded to them by the parti- 
cular occupation they take up for prospecting, arranging 
clandestine meetings and executing their designs. 

A Moghia burglary in this Presidency is generally the work 
of some gang invited from a distance by one individual who 
has previously marked the house while living in some town or 
city as a Brahmin, Rajput or Khaki Sadhu (one who covers 
the body with ashes, wears a langoti and warms himself over a 

For breaking into a house, the instrument used is called a 
gydn or by Moghias a daulatia. The Bauriah's favourite 
method is by the ' bagli ' entrance already described in the 
preceding notes. A knife, sometimes an ordinary table knife 
sharpened to a point and put into a wooden or leather sheath, 
is also carried by the leader for purposes of defence as a last 
resource and for cutting into tents. The ' pitwadis ' carry 
sticks. Moghias, it is said, sometimes carry a razor in lieu of 
the knife. A small strip of cloth waxed and rolled into a taper 
or the flare of a match supplies the necessary light. If per- 
chance the Bauriah fails to effect an entrance by the ' bagli/ 
he sometimes but rarely resorts to the ' rumali ' method and 
makes a hole in the wall of the house large enough to crawl in 
through. This hole is covered by a confederate with a cloth to 
keep out light and cold draught, which might disturb the sleep 
of those inside, and to screen from observation from the road 
any light used in the room. The favourite alternative to the 
' bagli ' entrance is breaking in through a barred window, the 
bars being quickly and forcibly bent and drawn out. The 
leader alone enters the house, lights his taper and from the 
door- way, window or hole by which he has entered, takes stock 
generally of the contents of the room. Having made a mental 
note of where people are lying asleep and where boxes are 
standing, he puts out his taper, crawls forward slowly and 
silently and satisfies himself by listening to the breathing of 
each person sleeping in the room as to the soundness of 
their sleep. He then proceeds to secure all he can lay hands 


on and transfers it to his ' pitwadis ' outside. He will take 
anything and everything, even sweetmeats, glii and the like, 
but cooked food and grain he will not lift. Boxes are not 
opened in the house ; they are removed intact to be broken open 
outside. Jewellery is skilfully and quickly removed from the 
recumbent bodies of persons asleep. If disturbed or challenged, 
the intruder snatches what he can from the inmates and beats 
a hasty retreat. As a rule injury is not done to persons inside 
the house except when in straits and to effect escape, when 
those outside will speedily come to the rescue of their leader. 
In a tight corner Bauriahs will go to any length in self defence 
and will not hesitate to use the knife with deadly effect. 
While the leader is at work inside, the ' pitwadis ' are dis- 
tributed outside ; and while some have their attention fixed on 
assisting their leader, others keep a sharp look-out against 
interruption from outside, the danger signal being a sound 
emitted from the mouth similar to the cry of a hare w r hen 

Before advancing into an inner room and out of view of his 
' pitwadis/ the ' kamaoo ' or ' kadoo ' first of all acquaints 
the former of his intention : this in order that they may be ready 
to come to his assistance if need be. He then goes forward, 
lights his taper again at the door of the inner room, takes 
stock of it, extinguishes the light, tests the breathing of any 
one asleep in the room, secures what he can lay hands on and 
passes it out. 

Major Gunthorpe, in his " Notes on Criminal Tribes " pub- 
lished in the year 1882, mentions a practice among Bauriahs of 
throwing forward, when a light is not used, seeds or grains 
to locate the position of brass or copper pots and boxes. 
Enquiries instituted in this Presidency do not, however, bear 
this out, at any rate in respect to Dehliwals, Malpuras and 
Khairwadas, and there are grounds for the belief that the 
practice is now out of date among all criminals. It no doubt 
prevailed in former times \vhen the burglar's outfit contained 
nothing better than a flint and steel to provide light. But with 
the facilities that now exist for obtaining cheap silent matches, 
the need for a substitute for a light has ceased to exist and the 
somewhat risky practice of throwing forward seeds seems to 
have fallen into disuse. It is a fact though that all Bauriahs 
carry about among their belongings a few grains of wheat and 
jawari and mamarkhi seeds (resembling in appearance vrrv 
small soap-nuts) tied in small bits of rag or kept in small 


receptacles, which are used in consulting omens before pro- 
ceeding on a venture and in determining what particular 
individuals shall take part in it ; also, that among Malpuras, 
should one of the gang be a self-constituted ' Jotishi ' or sup- 
posed to be familiar with mantras or charms, he will cast a 
white goonj (seed) on the house before breaking into it to 
ensure that the venture shall not be interrupted. 

Marwadas by reason of the fact that they live in disguise 
in cities and towns, are not particular as to how they effect 
entrance into a house that they have decided on breaking into. 
They will break through wall or roof, as circumstances permit 
or are favourable. The Dehliwal and Malpura Bauriah has to 
do his work expeditiously as time is of importance to him ; the 
Bauriah who does not live^apart from the general public is on 
the spot, so to speak, has better opportunities for laying his 
plans and more of the night at his disposal for the actual com- 
mission of the crime. 

Tent thieving appears to have been the Dehliwal Bauriah's 
hereditary speciality and even now 7 he prides himself on being 
an adept in eluding sentries and gaining entrance to tents. 

Sheep lifting by Bauriahs has no characteristic features. 
The methods of other criminals, as described in the note on 
Ramoshis for instance, are followed. 

With respect to other forms of crime mentioned under the 
preceding heading, experience in this Presidency does not 
furnish sufficient data from which any instructive information 
can be compiled. It is as a notorious and inveterate burglar 
that the Bauriah deserves special attention and stands out 
conspicuously among foreign criminals frequenting this Pre- 

Among Dehliwals and Malpura gangs not hampered with 
families, should inconvenient enquiries be anticipated, absentees 
from the halting place are represented at night by sheets 
spread over stones or bundles to look like sleeping forms. 
Enquiry by any officious police or village officer who may have 
noticed the gang during the day, is met by the two or three 
Bauriahs who have been left at the encampment explaining that 
they are awake and that their companions (pointing to the 
dummies) are asleep. This little artifice should be remembered 
by the police on their rounds when looking up suspicious gangs 
of mendicants. 


Bauriahs under arrest should be very carefully guarded, 
particularly when being escorted from one station to another. 
Instances are not wanting in which Bauriahs have assaulted 
the police and escaped from custody even with the hand- 
cuffs on. 

As a rule Bauriahs do not associate with other castes in the 
commission of crime. 

A few hints as to how to act when a Bauriah gang is 
traced may be found useful. When a person suspected of 
being a Bauriah is found loitering about or begging in the 
streets, it is inadvisable to challenge or interrogate him there 
and then ; he should be quietly followed to his encampment. 
A Bauriah on being questioned never admits his identity or 
that he forms one of a gang. Evidence of his tribe and 
criminality, such as the fry an and other characteristic articles 
described above, are ordinarily to be found in his encampment. 
On a Bauriah encampment being discovered, it is desirable to 
surround and search it in the early morning, as then all 
members are likely to be found at home and traces of any 
crime they may have committed over-night will be fresh. 
Each member of the gang should be examined separately. 
When thus taken unawares their stories will probably be found 
to contain important discrepancies. On some pretext or other 
individuals will try to move about and if permitted to do so 
and at the same time carefully watched, may possibly be 
discovered, burying a knife and moving bedding over the spot, 
or throwing some implicating article into bushes or over walls. 
There is no limit to their cunning and the search of an 
encampment proceeds under volleys of abuse and loud 
protestations at the zulum which the ' Sarkar ' is com- 

If the gang finds the game is up, that their identity is dis- 
covered and their methods known, they are quick to adopt 
another strain. " Yes, certainly, they are Bauriahs if the Sarkar 
says so, but there are Bauriahs and Bauriahs. Did God make 
all five fingers the same length ? " They then are at pains to 
prove that they are a peaceful, law-abiding gang of Rajputs, 
(" all right, saheb, call us Bauriahs ") and that really and 
truly they are proceeding on a pilgrimage. One such gang 
invaded this Presidency and when nothing else was of avail 
produced ancient certificates given to some absent relatives of 
theirs and explained how they had helped and were helping 


the Government by hunting down fugitive Bauriahs and handing 
them over to the police ; unfortunately for them it came to 
light that they used these certificates purely for purposes of 
blackmail from other gangs of their tribe. 

If the gang is searched while on the move it may probably 
be found in possession of stolen property and other character- 
istic belongings mentioned above. 

At their halting place the gydn, if in appearance not 
calculated to arouse suspicion, is kept by the ' bhandari ' 
along with other cooking utensils ; if an unmistakable jemmy, 
it is buried at some distance from the halting place if the stay 
is to be prolonged, otherwise under the bedding in the lining 
of a saddle or somewhere else in the encampment if the halt 
is but for a few hours. In respect to the obvious jemmy, so 
uneasy are they lest it should be found on them, that their 
first care, even if they squat on the road for a few minutes to 
have a smoke, is to bury it. 

If the marks of the instrument used for making the hole 
in the wall are small and such as might be caused by the 
handle of a palli (ladle), a fair presumption to draw is that 
the breach in the wall is the handiwork of a Dehliwal or 
Malpura Bauriah with his gyAn, and if coupled with this the 
culprits, if disturbed, have been heard to make use of a 
dialect similar to that described as the Bauriah's, the crime 
may safely be put down to this criminal class. 

One of the first, perhaps the very first, recorded case of 
Bauriahs discovered at work in this Presidency came to 
light in the year 1887 in the Bijapur District and as a brief 
account of the case may prove interesting, some instructive 
details from a report on the case submitted by the District 
Superintendent of Police, Bijapur, at the time, are reproduced. 
The case is typical of Bauriah methods, illustrates how 
successfully they are able to assume disguise and the ramifi- 
cations of their widespread organization. 

In the beginning of September 1887 from certain infor- 
mation of a vague description, received by a policeman from 
a low caste inhabitant of Bijapur, suspicion was aroused against 
certain Gosavis who lived in the Taj Bowdi that they were 
concerned in the serious house-breaking cases that mysteriously 
took place when the dark nights came round, and that these 
menwere connected with all the cases that had been taking 
place, more or less regularly, during the past three years. 
On receipt of this information, which was conveyed to the 


Superintendent of Police, it was thought advisable to institute 
a watch, by means of detectives, on the movements and 
general behaviour of these Gosavis, who subsequently proved 
to be Bowris from Bhopal, though this was not at the time 
suspected. A close watch kept on the movements of the few 
Gosavis who lived in the Taj Bowdi math disclosed the 
following suspicious circumstances regarding them : 

(a) their manners and customs and daily avocations were 
not those of the ordinary travelling Gosavis ; 

(b) that they lived in a style, i. e., ate and drank, quite 
beyond their apparent means, and lived far more extravagantly 
than their ostensible means of subsistence justified ; 

(c) that they maintained a very exclusive attitude towards 
strangers visiting the math 

(d) that they disappeared and returned in small parties 
and that they were joined by others, apparently Gosavis, 
with whom they seemed to have a previous acquaintance ; 

(e) that some members travelled between Bijapur and two 
villages, Shivangi and Hernal, distant respectively eighteen 
and thirty miles, where they seemed to have intimate acquain- 
tances and houses. 

After a careful watch had been maintained for some fifteen 
or twenty days over the villages of Shivangi and Hernal and the 
math at the Taj Bowdi in Bijapur, beyond the above suspicious 
circumstances, nothing which would directly incriminate these 
Gosavis or connect them with the house-breaking cases that 
had occurred and were occurring in Bijapur, could be dis- 
covered and therefore the Dassara festival falling on the 26th 
September, this opportunity was seized by the police for 
bringing matters to a crisis by suddenly pouncing down on the 
villages of Hernal and Shivangi, surrounding them at night 
and searching for stolen property, house-breaking implements 
and so on. Accordingly on the 26th September a body of 
police was deputed to make a forced march to these villages 
and carry out the searches. There were then no Gosavis in 
the Taj Bowdi math, except the officiating priest, also a 
Gosavi. The villages were surrounded on the night of the 
26th and a search made of them, but no Gosavis were 
discovered there. In Shivangi, however, a quantity of property 
suspected to be stolen was discovered and in Hernal, in the 
pi'itU's house, an ornament valued at Rs. 400 was confiscated 


and subsequently identified as being property stolen in a Bijapur 
case. This pdtil was reported to be in league with the Gosavis 
and was subsequently prosecuted for receiving stolen property, 
committed to the sessions and there discharged. These were 
the somewhat unsatisfactory results of the raid made. 

Subsequently information was collected regarding the 
movements of the Gosavis and it was ascertained that such 
men were in the habit of visiting villages in small gangs of threes 
and fours, and two Gosavis who gave valuable information 
were discovered. 

These two men named Mooligirri and Koomangirri amply 
confirmed the suspicions that had been aroused regarding the 
criminal propensities of the Taj Bowdi Gosavis, but, though they 
could have done so, they did not at the time state their true caste. 
On the information received from Mooligirri and Koomangirri 
of Shivangi. six Gosavis were taken into custody and property 
valued at various amounts was recovered which was identified 
as property stolen in house-breaking cases of Bijapur in 1887 
and previous years, and in one case of the Belgaum District. 
Further, a complete list of a gang of thirty-eight men was obtained 
from one of the informants, though subsequent enquiries made in 
Bhopal, by the Inspector sent up there for the purpose, disclosed 
the fact that the gang was even larger, five or six individuals 
whom this informant had not mentioned having been fully 
identified in Bhopal as belonging to the Bijapur gang and in 
consequence arrested. The informant further declared that 
the Gosavis were Bowris from Bhopal ; that they gained their 
livelihood by committing crime ; that they had committed a 
large number of house-breaking cases in Bijapur ; that one who 
had been arrested, vis. } Baldeodas, was the spiritual leader of 
the gang and that there was also a 'jamadar' or executive 
leader. On enquiry as to the whereabouts of the rest of the 
gang, he stated that the ' jamadar ' and fifteen men had gone to 
Athni in the Belgaum District on a marauding expedition and 
that fifteen others had gone into the Dharwar District for the 
same purpose. Some clothes belonging to the ' jamadar ' were 
found in the Taj Bowdi math and also a house-breaking 
implement answering to the description of the implement used 
by Bowris, given in Gunthorpe's " Notes on Criminal Tribes." 

On the roth November 1887 the six Gosavis who had already 
been arrested were convicted in connection with three house- 
breaking and theft cases and sentenced to various terms ranging 
from two to four years' rigorous imprisonment, one being also 


convicted and given four months for escaping from the 
custody of the police while being brought in from Shivangi to 

It was also ascertained that another of the gang had already 
been convicted of house-breaking and theft in Bagalkot, though 
at the time it was not known he was a Bowri and belonged to 
this gang. In this manner seven men out of the thirty-eight 
whose names were known were accounted for and the first 
stage of the case completed. 

It will perhaps be a convenient place here to give briefly 
the Bijapur history of Baldeodas bin Bhoopalsing alias Bhopda, 
the spiritual leader of the so-called Gosavis and officiating 
priest of the Taj Bowdi math. He came to Bijapur about four 
years before the incidents being described, put up in the Taj 
Bowdi math, the priest and the indmddr of which was a man 
named Durgaprasad Baldeodas, became his disciple and so 
ingratiated himself with Durgaprasad, that on the decease of 
the latter, Baldeodas became Durgaprasad's heir and inherited 
the position of officiating priest of the math. In the character 
of spiritual heir to the deceased guru he even induced the 
Collector to interest himself in a case of an alleged wrong 
done to the temple property. As priest of the math he was 
much venerated by the inhabitants of Bijapur and was regarded 
as a highly religious, holy and respectable man. He had the 
entree into the households of the principal influential and 
wealthy inhabitants of Bijapur, officials and non-officials, and 
generally impressed all with his sanctity and respectability to 
such an extent that suspicion of dishonesty never occurred to 
any one and yet he was nothing but a Malpura Bauriah 
in disguise. As officiating priest of the math, a large place 
with underground rooms, very pucca built and surrounded by 
garden land, he had every facility for collecting and harbouring 
Bowris, his caste-fellows, and generally directing their opera- 
tions. But for his position and influence it would have been 
impossible for the gang to have made a depot as it were of the 

On the termination of the case against the seven Bowris 
referred to above, wide search was instituted by the police for 
the two sub-gangs, each fifteen strong, which had gone into the 
Belgaum and Dharwar Districts, but proved abortive. It was 
found quite impossible to trace the spurious Gosavis among 
the large number of genuine bawds who wander over the 
country begging. The police had several wild goose chases 


to Kolhapur, Pandharpur, Sholapur, Gadag and other places, 
so the only hope of ever finding the missing Bowris, who no 
doubt had heard of the capture of their leader and companions 
in Bijapur, seemed to be to send an experienced officer to 
Bhopal with detectives to arrest them on return home. It 
seemed probable they would make for Bhopal sooner or later, 
trusting to the great distance preventing or spoiling pursuit. 
Accordingly a Police Inspector was sent with detectives and 
an informant who could identify the Bowris, to Bhopal. Just 
previous to the Inspector's departure letters received through 
the post to the address of Baldeodas, the leader, were 
intercepted. From the post marks on the envelopes it was 
clear the letters had been posted in Poona, Satara and 
Khandesh. A copy of one is attached and speaks for itself. 
On arrival at Bhopal the Inspector found a large number of 
Bowris in arrest on suspicion of having committed a serious 
dacoity with murder in the Bhopal State. Seventeen of these 
proving to be members of the Bijapur gang and being identified 
were arrested formally by the Inspector and after a great deal of 
correspondence between the Superintendent of Police, Bijapur, 
and the Political authorities, were transferred to the Bijapur 
District for trial. The ' jamadar ' and executive leader of the 
gang, Akhersing alias Chetandas, was not one of the seventeen 
men arrested, he was however traced to Saugor, a neighbouring 
British district, where he was found in custody on a charge of 
recent house-breaking and theft. All the eighteen, suspecting 
a hue-and-cry would be raised, must have absconded to Bhopal 
immediately their companions were arrested in Bijapur and 
apparently had been concerned in crime in the former place 
since their return. 

The Police Inspector reported that the Bowri population 
in Bhopal then numbered approximately 5,000 souls ; that they 
had no ostensible means of livelihood ; that during the month 
and a quarter he was in Bhopal territory, with the exception of 
some 100 or 150 males, there were no able-bodied men, only 
women, children and old men and cripples, in the villages. 
All the able-bodied Bowris were away. He was able to trace 
and identify only 18 men, so apparently the remainder had 
either not returned to their villages or had managed to elude the 

Further enquiries made by the Bijapur police disclosed the 
facts that several Bowris had wandered from their native 
country many years before, intermarried with women of the 

B 5H 13 


district and settled down. They had built chappar houses 
and acquired a little property in the villages of Shivangi and 
Hernal. What their antecedents may have been was not 
known but at any rate they had not hitherto made themselves 
conspicuous, nothing was reported against them and their true 
caste had not then been discovered. They did not go about 
in disguise but lived as ordinary inhabitants of the two villages. 
It was only in consequence of the discovery of the Bijapur 
gang of Bowris that it was ascertained these settlers were also 
Bowris. Their numbers were roughly estimated at about a 
hundred souls and they left the villages of Shivangi and Hernal 
as soon as the true Bowris were arrested, decamping into Moglai 
territory. To proceed with the account of the case against the 
eighteen accused extradited from Bhopal it is sufficient to say 
that the case ended in the conviction in the Sessions Court of 
all the accused. 

Translation of one of the intercepted letters : 

" Sidh Shri sarb Upmajog Rajeshri. Kalyandiis writes. Let it 
be known to Gumandas that the news of your welfare is first of all 
required, then all is well here. If you have time and have recovered 
from illness, come on receipt of (this) letter. And we are in great 
trouble here and no ' murti ' (i. e., member of a gang) helps, therefore 
we have written to you. If you have recovered fully, then you shall 
find us at Bijapur, Tasbaodi, with Baldeodas till dasmi (roth) and in 
case you have no time to come, then on receipt of this note send 
letter to the (following) address : Bijapur Tasbaodi, c/o Baldeodas. 

We have sent two 'murtis' (members) to mandar (home) with 
kharcha (money). Ram Ram Sitaram from Kalyandas and Ragh- 
unathdas to Gumandas and Lachmansing. And what can two 
' murtis ' do. And three seers of flour (300 rupees worth of stolen 
property) have been lost. It is not known who has taken them. $\ 
seers of flour (475 rupees worth of stolen property) has been sent to 
mandar (home) and come soon on hearing (receipt of I the letter, 
and we are getting anxious for want of men (assistance). Ram Ram 
to Bachu Sonar (a ' receiver ') from Kalyansing." 

The gydn (alluded to as ' Gyandas ' in the presence of 

strangers in order to mislead them into 

stock-in-trade instruments believing that an individual is being 

and weapons used in commit- 1111 , \ 

ting crime. talked about) or daulatia is their 

chief and characteristic implement of 

house-breaking. A knife, exhibit 20 of the Bombay District 
Police Museum, vide Plate VI, or razor, sticks, wax taper, 
exhibit 20 of the Bombay District Police Museum, rii/c 
Plate VI, and match-box (taendstickers) complete the outfit 


carried by Bowri burglars. The wax taper is usually carried 
wrapped round the sheath of the knife which is stuck into the 
left side of the leader's dhotar. The gydn is similarly carried 
by one of the ' pitwadis.' 

Gydns are of three kinds. That carried by Dehliwals, 
exhibit 20 of the Bombay District Police Museum, vide Plate VI, 
is like an ordinary iron ladle (palli or kadcht) but is heavier and 
stronger than the ordinary culinary spoon and is made of an 
alloy of iron and steel, the end of the handle being sharpened 
and tempered. TYiisgydn is used both for cooking and criminal 
purposes. The Malpuras' and Khairwadas' gydn is an ordinary 
pointed steel jemmy about fifteen to eighteen inches long with 
a knob at the end. The Badaks' gydn is a steel and iron 
jemmy, six to ten inches long, fitted into a wooden handle about 
the same length, bound at the top and also where the metal fits 
into the wood, with iron bands. 

The Moghias' daulatia is believed to be an iron zig-zag 
shaped jemmy fitted into a wooden handle, but an authentic 
specimen has not come under observation, therefore the 
accuracy of the description cannot be vouched for. 

In addition to other articles mentioned above and elsewhere 
in this note, a Bowri leader usually carries a ball of wax for 
coating the taper and improvising a make-shift rough pair of 
scales for weighing valuables, exhibit 56 of the Bombay District 
Police Museum, vide Plate IV. 

Property acquired by theft is first divided into five shares. 

Ways and means of con- The leader g ets . one, the remaining 
ccaiing and disposing of stolen four are then divided into as many 

shares as there are members of the 

gang including the leader and even those who did not actually 
assist at the crime and each man gets a share ; thus the leader 
gets 20 per cent, of the spoil plus an equal share with all others 
in the remaining 80 per cent. This seems to be a general rule 
among all Bauriah divisions. The allocation to the leader of 
a 20 per cent, share to begin with is apparently based on an 
old understanding that it is a responsibility belonging to the 
leader to 

(a) distribute alms to Brahmins ; 

(b) pay dues to ' Doms ' ; * 

* These men sometimes on hearing of a successful haul travel down south, passing 
themselves off as Bhiits or bards, join up with a Bauriah gang and obtain their dues or 
share of the spoil. 


(c) help his female relations who may be unprovided 

for ; and 

(d) propitiate the deity by giving a feast to the 

males of the gang. 

There is often much quarrelling over the distribution of the 
' loot ' and when this is the case the property, of whatever 
description, is broken up and divided into shares. Should 
there be no differences, articles of jewellery containing pearls 
and precious stones are put aside for subsequent disposal and 
division of sale-proceeds, the rest being broken up if necessary 
and divided at once in the manner described above. Each 
member melts down the gold and silver that comes to his 
share in a crucible improvised for the occasion made of earth 
with a slight admixture of cotton to bind it. He sells the 
metal or disposes of such articles as come to his share intact 
to ' receivers,' who are shroffs, goldsmiths, Banias, Gujars, 
Borahs and the like. 

Articles with pearls and precious stones in them are, 
pending sale, kept by the leader who disposes of them later as 
opportunity offers to ' receivers,' the sale-proceeds being 
divided in the manner stated above. 

Pending division or disposal, valuables are cunningly 
buried, in the case of those who live outside towns and villages, 
in the near vicinity of the halting place. When moving camp 
each man carries his cash and the stolen property allotted to 
his share on his person. Arrived at a fresh halting place 
valuables are again buried. Property is not, as a rule, sent 
home by parcel but is occasionally sent home in charge of one 
or two members of the party who after safely delivering it 
rejoin the gang. Cash is remitted by money-order, under the 
usual precautions, fictitious names etc., to baffle trace and 
disarm suspicion. 

On one occasion when the police surprised some Dehliwals, 
the men made themselves scarce and one of the women con- 
cealed some stolen property in a heap of chapdtis. 

Correspondence from their country by post is received 
through some local friend who is kept in ignorance as to their 
caste and calling. In their letters members of a gang are 
referred to as ' murtis,' their home as ' mandar ' and stolen 
property as dta (flour). A seer of ata means a hundred 
rupees worth of stolen property, two seers two hundred 
rupees worth, etc. 


Property is buried by individuals separately. That belong- 
ing to the gang as a whole, i. e., before division, is buried by 
the leader, who when returning from the place of concealment 
is careful to obliterate his foot-prints. To do this he stoops 
and dusts them over with the end of a cloth for some distance 
as he walks backwards. On the move it is carried by one of 
the able-bodied members of the gang who is specially fleet of 
foot. If any serious risk is anticipated, the property is buried 
and left behind, one of the gang in the get-up of a Sadhu 
(among Badaks perhaps an Aughur Sadhu) remaining near 
the spot till such time as he can safely remove the property or 
the gang returns. 

The hole dug by Bowris when concealing property under 
ground, is generally wider at the base than at the surface and 
the property is deposited in a small side burrow scooped out at 
the base. 

Bauriahs are in the habit of sewing their knives in the 
edges of their quilts and when required to shake out the latter 
they take care to grasp the quilt at the point where the knife is 

Marwar Baoris or Gujerat Baoris. 

Marwar Vaghris or Baghris, also known as Marwar Baoris, 
appear to be one of the many off-shoots 

Name or C t r ribl nal of the large Bauriah tribe. They are 

sometimes, though erroneously, called 

Gujerat Baoris. They are not the same as the Vaghris of 
Gujerat proper though they try to pass themselves off as 
such, and differ widely from the latter in their habits, criminal 
tendencies, and methods. 

They are divided into clans, of which the following are 
some : 

Parmar. Adhani. 

Solanki. Rathod. 

Shonkla or Vaghela. Dhengani. 

Damdara. Atani. 

Dabhi. Sangani. 

Gelada or Gelot. Deoda. 
Chohan (also pronounced 
as Sohan). 

The Marwar Vaghris' original habitat is Marwar. Some 
families have migrated into Guierat 

Habitat. . . .,..' 

where their separate identity is lost 

among the Vaghri class. They are to be found in great 
numbers in Kathiawad, Sind and Rajputana, and: in lesser 
numbers in the Central Provinces. 

Many of this class, notably those who are given to coining, 
wander about the country in small 
a "- gangs of varying numbers, usually ..( 
exceeding ten, accompanied by women, 
children and ponies. They travel as far as Calcutta, Indore 
and Lahore, are to be met with in this Presidency, Madras, 
the Central Provinces, Bengal and the Berars. They wander 
from place to place throughout the year, but during the mon- 
soon do not move camp so frequently, endeavouring to fix 
up where they have formed local connections. Those who 
are without encumbrances and live under false pretences in 
towns, travel by train. 

The tribe is believed not to exceed 

Population and distribution. 2,OOO, but this is Only a gUCSS ; no 

reliable figures are forthcoming. 


Marwar Vaghris are generally dark, of medium build and 
are, with few exceptions, dirty and 

Appearance, dress, etc. ' . , . . . , r , . , J . 

squalid in their habits and dress. 

They are capable of much endurance and can cover great 
distances in the day, even thirty to forty miles when pushed. 
The men wear an old dhotar, short angarkha or shirt or a coat 
and a worn-out pagri or a dupatta which they fold either in the 
Marwar or Gujerat fashion. Those to be met with in this 
Presidency, who are more or less domiciled here, do not grow 
beards nor wear the hair long. The females usually wear the 
ghdghra or petticoat (never white or black), sometimes a 
sdrt, bodice open at the back, odni or head-scarf, bangles 
made of so-called ivory or cocoanut shell, the toti (ear orna- 
ment), a lavang (a clove-shaped ornament) in the nose, silver 
or kdsa (bell-metal) anklets and toe-rings. 

Men as well as women are marked on the belly by scars, 
the result of branding. 

The tattoo markings on a woman's face are a line from the 
outer corner of each eye, a dot at the inner corner of the left 
eye, one on the left cheek and one on the chin. They have 
also distinctive tattoo marks on each arm, the chest and the 
shins. They eat all sorts of flesh, except that of the cow and 
village pig, and indulge in liquor. They are superstitious 
and sometimes propitiate the goddess before starting on an 

They usually encamp outside a village in a tope of trees 
or field where they live in the open and sometimes in tents or 
temporarily constructed huts. In the rains they hire lodgings 
on the outskirts of villages or towns, or put up in temples, 
dharamsdlds and the like. 

The headman of a gang is styled a ' jamadar ' or ' malak ' 
or ' panch sati ' or ' jhagardoo ' and the gang is known as a 
' tdnda.' 

Marwar Baoris and Moghias feed together when they 

Marwar Vaghris have a dialect of their own, ' Baori- 

bhasha,' which resembles Marwadi. 

"^speech" 1 " Those in Gujerat speak corrupt Guje- 

rati. They can also speak Hindi, and 

generally pick up a smattering of the language of the country 
they peregrinate in. 



Slang used. 



I". i .sal 

lasuria, lahoor or phogda 

adiya, nanama 


mundala, dala or renga 



vavri jao, sapardi jao, modi jao. 

bahodi gayo 


ratadia or lakdio 



khengro or khengolio 

bapra, bahua or tapua 




maw. 'i 





ma nh on 







rar or bunbal 



pilu or namayan 



The following are some of the 
slang expressions used by Mar war 
Vaghris : 


... an officer, or saheb. 

counterfeit rupee, 
ladle in which the nn tal 

is melted, 
a genuine rupee, 

run or decamp, 

Baori man. 
Baori woman, 
village or house, 

a spiral track made by 
Baoris for the guidance 
of those following, 
alloy of kdsd, copper and 

tin in equal proportions, 
mixture of metals, viz., 
kdsd, copper and tin in 
the proportion of i, i 
and 10 respectively, 

the secret pocket in a 

the passing of counterfeit 

sacred thread. 


Slang. Meaning. 

vaniaraya ... to run away, 

german . . . brass utensil, 

ranga hoko ... bribe him. 

aur che ... is coming, 

lahi jashi ... it will be found, 

narsi jashi ... it will be detected, 

pee ... to change, 

pee man ... do not change, 

hamen pee aro ... change it now. 

narsiyo poso hokro ... return the coin, 

tukario thai jo ... go disguised as a Brah- 

hatari nako ... conceal it. 

khadro ... hole, 

velion ... credulous person, 

verton velion che ... he is simple and credu- 

babko or hokro ... exchange counterfeit coins. 

To indicate to others of the caste who may follow on their 
tracks, the route taken, a member of the gang, usually a 
woman, trails a stick in the dust as she walks along leaving a 
spiral track on the ground. Another method for indicating the 
route taken is to place leaves under stones at intervals along 
the route. 

They make use of the above signs even when begging in 
the villages round their encampments, as well as when on the 

In Marwar they cultivate land. A few maintain them- 
selves by carrying kdvads of water 
tensib Hho5? s of from the holy Ganges and selling the 

latter to Hindus. Some cheat by 

selling ordinary water in which a little gopichandan has been 
mixed to give it a slightly turbid appearance. These water- 
carriers call themselves ' Gangajal Vaghris or Baoris.' 

Away from Marwar when making a prolonged halt any- 
where, they sometimes cultivate cucumbers etc. in Gujerat and 
there and elsewhere rent land even on a year's lease ; but 
begging is their chief ostensible means of subsistence. 

While out on criminal expeditions they will often pass 
themselves off as ' Bhats ' or bards 

"T'SlSSSSi reciting with great fluency the exploits 

of heroes of old, or as ' Kabir Panthis ' 

reciting ' Kabir ' poetry. 


When they leave their encampments singly or in pairs to 
pass counterfeits they dress themselves up as ' Sadhus,' 
usually ' Giri Gosavis ' in salmon-coloured clothes, \\var 
rudrdksh beads and affix ' gir ' or ' das ' to their names. 
They are also known to pose as Brahmins, Kumhars, Kunbis, 
Rajputs or Charans. In Gujerat they generally pass them- 
selves off as ' Salats ' or stone-dressers. 

Occasionally in the Deccan they secure accommodation 
in villages and towns and pass themselves off as ' Phul Malis ' 
and ' Malis ' (gardeners). 

The males frequently change their names. 

Marwar Vaghris as a class are inveterate and hereditary 
coiners, the exact prototype of Chhap- 

Crime to which addicted. , , , J L 

parbands. Men as well as women are 

experts. They coin false rupees, as well as eight, four and two 
anna pieces. They also cheat Banias by the substitution of 
counterfeit mohtirs for gold ones. 

Their methods are very similar to those of the Chhappar- 

bands. Their work is superior though 

Methods employed in com- . . .. r , i i 

rritting crime, and distin- their appliances are crude and their 
guishing characteristics likely handicraft confined to casting counter- 
feits of an alloy of base metals. Their 

moulds are very typical and are made in the following 
manner. Two blocks, each about % of an inch deep by about 
3 inches square, are made up from good potter's clay (a little 
cotton or wool is mixed with it to make it binding), and into 
one, used as the lower half of the mould, two pegs with pointed 
protruding ends are driven, one into each of the opposite 
angles of the block. The other half of the mould is then 
carefully fitted on to the first one, holes being made to receive 
the two pegs described above and keep the blocks, when used 
as a mould, in position. The blocks are then set to dry, in the 
shade for choice, to avoid cracking. While drying, the blocks 
are polished outside with the hand to give them a finish. 
After they have hardened, the inner faces are rubbed on a 
stone to give each a level surface, so that when the two are 
brought together they shall fit exactly. Then a hollow, rather 
larger than a rupee in circumference and about $ of an inch 
deep, is scooped in the centre of the inner side of the lower 
block and a small channel is cut in the side of this block 
leading into the prepared hollow. A circular hole, rather larger 
in circumference than a rupee, is then made through the upper 
block and a channel is cut in this block in exact juxta-position 


to the one in the lower block, to form, when both blocks are 
fitted together, one small round channel in the side of the 
mould to admit the melted metal into the cavity prepared 
for the rupee. 

Lime-stone, called ' marad ka pathar,' is ground and 
sifted down to a very fine powder which is then mixed with a 
little ghi. A fine clay or plaster-of-paris is thus formed and 
is filled separately into the cavity of the lower block and the 
round hold of the upper one. A rupee with a clear bold 
impression is then fitted into the lower block and skilfully 
pressed and kneaded into it till it is half embedded. The 
upper block is then fitted on to the lower one to get an im- 
pression of the obverse and that having been done by the 
application of pressure from above to the white clay, the rupee 
is dexterously removed, a channel delicately scraped in the 
white clay at the place provided in the mould for the admission 
of the molten metal, and the mould is then complete. If the 
clay in the mould appears to be too sticky, a little ash is dusted 
over it before the rupee is placed in the mould to obtain an 
impression. The metal used is a mixture of copper, kdsd 
(bell-metal) and rdngd or kaldi (tin) in the proportion of 
i and i to 10 respectively. The kdsd, copper and an equal 
quantity of the tin, are first melted in a small earthen saucer. 
This alloy is called ' waggarl.* The remainder of the tin is 
now added and the alloy termed ' mdwd ' turned out and again 
melted in a palli (ladle) plastered with wet mud (this is a 
point to be noted) and poured into the mould. 

After turning the counterfeit out of the mould, the edges 
of the former are trimmed with a knife and those of a new 
genuine coin are pressed round the softer edge of the spurious 
article to give the latter the milling. Cow-dung usually, 
occasionally soot, alum, saltpetre or turmeric are used as 
required for polishing up the coin or giving it the appearance 
of a genuine and handled one. 

Each mould is capable of turning out a considerable num- 
ber of counterfeits and usually lasts for months. The white 
clay in the centre will ordinarily cast about twenty rupees, 
not more, before it requires to be renewed. 

After the coins have been manufactured,. those who have 
to utter them separate themselves from the gang and go out 
in ones or twos in different directions, the coins being kept 
concealed in small pockets sewn in the front folds of their 
dhotis as described further on. 


The Baori utterer approaches his dupe, male or female, 
the latter being preferred, poses as a country simpleton or 
pilgrim to some shrine and offers a ' Rajshahi ' rupee either 
to be cashed or with enquiries if it is current. On being told 
that the ' Rajshahi ' coin is not current, he asks to be shown a 
rupee that is, and having looked at the one shown him and 
studied it he substitutes by sleight-of-hand one of his counter- 
feits for the genuine coin. He invariably holds a short piece 
of stick, fashioned as tooth cleaning stick as a rule, in the 
right hand when palming off a counterfeit. 

The base rupee is held in the right hand and the stick is 
held to justify the contraction of the hand which is holding 
the counterfeit. The ' Hali ' or ' Rajshahi ' is tendered with 
the left. The current rupee is also received with the left hand 
and while the coiner looks at it and is discussing it he cleverly 
and quickly passes it into the right hand, the base coin being 
substituted for it in the left ; all the while he looks his dupe 
in the face and keeps up a volley of small talk to divert the 
attention of the latter. An expert can thus pass some twenty 
counterfeits at a time under favourable circumstances, but 
usually not more than two are attempted. His modus operand] 
at this stage is in fact precisely that of a conjurer, who for 
the success of his trick has to divert the attention of his 

With luck, a Marwar Baori will pass as many as ten to 
twenty counterfeits in a day. 

Other modes of passing counterfeits are for the coiner to 
hand a spurious rupee in payment for articles purchased worth 
an anna or two, taking the difference in cash ; or, to produce a 
' Rajshahi ' (or ' Badshahi ') coin ; the victim refuses to take a 
rupee that is not current, and the coiner then asks to be shown 
the kind of rupee required. This being done a counterfeit is 
cleverly substituted for it. Or, he pays for his purchases with 
a genuine rupee, expresses dissatisfaction with the weight or 
quality of the commodity purchased, altercates with the shop- 
keeper and causes the latter to return his money. The dispute 
continues and eventually the Baori consents to accept the 
goods and plants a counterfeit in payment instead of the 
genuine coin the Bania returned. 

A third method is as follows : The Baori goes to a grocer's 
shop to purchase ghi or other commodity and pretending 
ignorance of weights and measures prevails on the shopkeeper 
to scale the ghi against rupees (twenty to a quarter seer). 


Under one pretence or another he handles the money and while 
doing so, substitutes the counterfeits for the genuine coins. 

They never carry counterfeit rupees and smaller spurious 
coins together. 

Cheating by planting "false mohnrs is carried out as 
follows : Two small bags of exactly the same size (sufficiently 
large to hold a mohur], material and appearance are made. 
One contains a genuine gold mohur valued at about Rs. 24, 
the other a spurious one. The former is mortgaged with a 
Bania for Rs. 20, at twenty per cent, interest. After a time the 
Baori returns and complaining of the exorbitant rate of interest 
demands the bag containing his mohur back. It is returned. 
The Baori and his confederates then begin to altercate among 
themselves at the shop and the owner of the mohur is advised 
and persuaded, apparently much against his will, by his com- 
panions to pawn the article. Meanwhile the bag containing 
the spurious mohur has been substituted for the one containing 
the genuine coin. The Bania having already satisfied himself 
when he took the bag the first time that the coin was genuine, 
accepts the bag containing the counterfeit and without examin- 
ing the contents further, advances the Rs. 20 and the Baoris 
then depart the richer by Rs. 20 and the poorer by a small 
bag containing a worthless counterfeit. 

The characteristic mould, exhibit 37 of the Bombay District 
Police Museum, vide Plate III, as de- 
SET sc ^ above, a palli (iron spoon) , a 
few copper coins, pieces of kdsd^ tin, 
a knife, some pieces of lime-stone of the kind mentioned 
above, or clay, an earthen crucible or saucer and a few 
' Rajshahi ' or ' Hali Sicca ' rupees, complete the paraphernalia 
of a Baori coiner. 

The palli will usually be found to have a small dip in the 
edge to facilitate the pouring of the molten metal. 

Counterfeits and moulds are generally buried in or near 

Waysand means of conceal- ( sav at >out twenty to thirty yards away) 

ing or disposing of incrimin- their encampments and have been 

found in the ground under their bed- 
ding, fire-places, etc. 

Counterfeit rupees are carried in one of the pockets 
cunningly provided for the purpose, by sewing some of the 
pleats in the front folds of the dhoti ; genuine ones, as received, 
are dropped into hidden pockets formed in the same way and 


concealed in the same garment among the folds which, usually 
drawn together and tucked in at the back, are for this purpose 
brought a little round to the right side. Later, genuine coins 
are transferred to one of the pockets in the front folds of the 
dhoti where they are more easily grasped by the hand when 
the dhoti is undone and concealed there, are less liable to 
come to notice in a search. 

A left-handed man will have his hip pockets on the 
left side. 

When the gang is on the move, coining requisites are, as a 
rule, conveyed by the women in concealed pockets in their 
crhdgras or in children's pockets. Counterfeits are taken 
away by the utterers who separate themselves from the main 

Ujle (clean) Minas. 

Minas are not known by any other name. Broadly speak- 
Name of criminal class in g th ere are two social divisions 
or tribe. among them, 

Chowkidars and 

The former alone are noted for their criminal propensities ; 
the latter are land-owners and law-abiding. 

The best known goths or clans among Chowkidars are: 
(i) Kagot, (2) Bhonrayat, (3) Jeff, (4) Sevria, (5) Seehra, 
(6) Jhirwal, (7) Pabdi, (8) Bagdi, (9) Gomladoo, (10) Basan- 
wal, (n) Khata, (12) Nowgada, (13) Dewanda. The first 
five are the most criminal. 

The home of the Minas is Jodhpur, Jeypore, Bhartpore, 
Bikaneer and Alwar States and Shah- 
Habitat, jahanpur in the Gurgaon District of 
the Panjab. 

Kagot Minas hail from Mandawar in Alwar State and 
Shahjahanpur ; Bhonrayat from Toravati, Jeypore State ; Jeff 
from the Nimka Thana district of the Jeypore State ; Sevria 
from Bairat district, Jeypore State; and Seehra from Kotpootli 
and Khetdi under Jeypore. 

Their sphere of activity extends pretty well all over India, 
but the Bombay Presidency, Central 
wa "- Provinces, Mysore State, His High- 
ness the Nizam's Dominions, are 
especially attractive to this criminal tribe. 

Minas are not a nomadic class but settled. It is only in 
pursuit of crime that they leave their homes. Ordinarily they 
set out after the Dasra or Divali festivals (about October), 
return home before the Holi (March), start again in April and 
remain abroad till July. Occasionally they will stay away 
between whiles (during the monsoon) if they fear capture in 
the event of their return home or, if they have reason to know 
that a prolonged stay is likely to prove a lucrative one. 
During such unusual absences they live in large towns, not in 
villages, and do not travel about the country. The men 
alone visit this Presidency. 


They are not accompanied by females, boys or cattle, and 
travel about both by rail and road. Minas leave their country 
in large numbers, but work in small gangs of two to six generally, 
occasionally even twelve. As a rule the smaller gangs of two 
and three are composed of the more criminal and expert 
individuals. They prefer to patronize villages and small towns 
rather than big cities. In villages they put up in dharamsdlds 
or temples ; in large towns and cities, where they have 
' fences ' and friends, they are harboured and accommodated in 
houses rented by the latter. Each gang or giroh has a leader 
known as ' jamadar.' 

When travelling by rail they avoid all big junctions and 
stations, never book direct to their destination, take tickets 
to some intermediate station, alight, journey for some distance 
on foot and book at a wayside station to another intermediate 
station and so on. Thus they rebook four or five times before 
reaching their objective and perform the entire journey mostly 
by rail, partly by road. 

In this Presidency their chief hunting grounds are the 
Deccan, Bombay City, Gujerat, Kathiawad and the Carnatic. 
They also frequent Pandharpur in considerable numbers. 
Generally, they make short halts of a day or two at each place 
they visit and then push on planning or committing crime as 
they go, though not using any town or village as a centre from 
which to exploit the surrounding country. Prolonged halts are 
made only in populous towns. They never return along a 
route they have operated on. Once they have tried their luck 
anywhere, they clear off for the time being and should they 
happen to come across others of the fraternity warn them 
against working in the neighbourhood. 

In dress and appearance they strongly resemble Rajputs, 

but when met with in this Presiden- 

Appearance. dress, etc. , , .... 

cy are nearly always in disguise. 

With the exception of a small ear-ring, the men when away 
from home wear no ornaments. They do not tattoo. In 
physique they are strong, well built, and medium to tall ; and 
they vary in complexion and are mostly good-looking. In 
habits and dress they are clean and as a rule bathe daily. In 
their country they allow the beard to grow, abroad they 
generally shave. 

They are good travellers, capable of covering long distances, 
even sixty miles by road if pressed and are well inured to all 


In the commission of crime they are resourceful and bold. 
Minas are flesh eaters but eschew beef. They are very 
fond of intoxicating drinks and opium. 

As their women and children do not visit this Presidency, 
the remainder of this note will deal only with the men. 

They speak Marwadi or Rajputani, according to the place 

of their birth. All can talk Hindi 
and Urdu fluently and many are 

Minas have few slang expressions ; enquiries from 

' informers ' have elicited only the 

Slang and signs used. , ,, J 

following : 

Slang. Meaning. 

rumal ... house-breaking implement, 

kajli, chayi ... dark night, 

dans, machhar, kutta ... police constable, 
rumal rakhdo ... keep the house-breaking imple- 

ment out of the way. 

By way of warning other gangs against following on his 
heels the ' jamadar ' of a gang scribbles his name in Urdu or 
Hindi on prominently situated dharamsald walls, temples, 
mile-stones and the like. Gangs as a rule do not attempt to 
foregather ; accidental meetings of course take place, but it is 
characteristic of Mina gangs that they act independently of 
one another and do not follow one another by the same 

Sometimes members of a gang get separated during the 
confusion of an attack or pursuit during or after the commis- 
sion of a crime. When this occurs the stragglers invariably 
make for the rendezvous (mentioned later under " Methods 
employed in committing crime " etc.) where the paraphernalia 
belonging to the gang was left before proceeding to the scene 
of the offence. Here the others after recovering their clothing 
etc. either make a rude drawing of a snake on the ground and 
on the side of the nearest track, or road, to indicate the 
direction taken, or strew leaves broken from the tree in which 
their clothing etc. was placed, to the nearest track on the side 
of which a similar drawing is then left to point the route 
followed. The tail of the snake indicates the direction in 
which the gang has gone and the straggler follows up the 
main body till he overtakes it, probably during its halt for the 
midday meal. At junctions and cross-roads the snake drawing 
is repeated. 

B 51414 


In their country they are cultivators, land-owners, chow- 

kidars (village police) and some 

Ostensible means o haye enlisted J n the nat | ve army 

During their criminal peregrinations 

they live ostensibly by begging (when they usually commence 
their request for alms with the words ' Jai ! Bdldji kijai! '), 
sometimes by selling sev-bhajyd, tobacco, matches etc. ; usually 
however they leave home well provided with funds and never 
earn an honest penny down-country. 

On criminal expeditions, they shave their heads and faces 

and get themselves up, faithfully in 
Disguises adopted and means respect to all details, as Marwadis or 

Gowd Chonniati Brahmins. Some- 
times a gang is accompanied by a genuine Brahmin to instruct 
and answer up for it when interrogated. 

Lately they have taken to disguising themselves as 
Sanjogi Sadhus who dress like Brahmins and sometimes adopt 
the salmon-coloured sapha or pagri. 

They also pass themselves off as Thakores bound for some 
large military town to visit some relative who is serving in a 
native regiment. On such occasions they do not shave off 
their beards or disguise themselves. They will also be found 
posing as Dakots (astrologers) with a khtirji, a sort of miniature 
saddle-bag slung over the left shoulder, and occasionally a 
hookah in the right hand and an image of ' Saturn ' in the 

Now and again with a hatchet on their shoulder they walk 
about in towns ostensibly in search of labour as wood-choppers, 
but invariably find some excuse for refusing work if offered. 

The following hints for identifying Minas will be found 
useful : 

(1) They generally cut off the turn-over piece of leather 
at the toe of the shoes (invariably of the Marwadi pattern) 
which they wear. 

(2) After bathing they wash their clothes by pounding and 
squeezing them on a stone, not in the ordinary way by swinging 
and striking them like the generality of Hindus. 

(3) Unless they bring off a lucrative haul, they will not 
shave except at home and then only after offering karai to the 
goddess. When circumstances permit of their shaving down- 
country, this operation is performed only during the bright half 
of the month. 


(4) Away from home they will not eat rice, sugarcane, 
berries, fried grains or any meat but mutton. 

(5) They will not dine at a marriage feast. When a 
Marwadi or a Marwadi Brahmin dies, Brahmins from the 
neighbourhood assemble for the dinner and dakshina. Should 
there be any Minas about at the time they will invariably attend 
the ceremony. 

(6) Unlike Brahmins, whom they imitate, they dine two or 
more together from one plate. 

(7) When bathing they do not cleanse the soles of their 
feet by rubbing them against stone. 

(8) When in disguise they will adopt the ' Ramanandi ' 
(triangular) or ' Shridharan ' (trident) tilak (forehead mark). 
They are very particular to put this mark on, correct in all 

(9) Whatever the disguise adopted, the pagri is always 
tied in a characteristic manner, viz., in Marwadi fashion, deep 
over the forehead and back of the head, shallower over the 
sides where the folds cross. 

(10) The presence of a dried goat's tongue either intact, 
in pieces or rolled into pills (about the size of a gram seed) 
among the effects of an individual suspected of being an up- 
country criminal, is said to be an infallible indication of his 
identity as a Mina. The flesh of the goat's tongue is 
indispensable in connection with the consulting of omens. 
This goat's tongue is usually wrapped in a piece of cloth and 
very carefully secreted in one of the satchels among the 
salt, tobacco, or condiments. 

In this Presidency their favourite form of crime is burglary 
and so long as this yields them a 

Crime to which addicted. rr 11 

sufficient return they do not take to 

anything else. Sometimes when the larder is low they lift 
a sheep or goat. 

Dacoity is not deliberately resorted to so long as they can 
get what they want by the less serious form of crime, though 
of course a burglary may develop into a technical dacoity. 

In large towns or cities Minas nearly always have 
Brahmin, Thakore, Rathod, Shroff, or 

Methods employed in com- . ,, , , ,. r , r ,.,, , , 

mitting crime, and distinguish- Marwadi friends, in fact, till they have 
in ff characteristics likely to established a connection in any such 

place they will not make a prolonged 


halt there. These friends act as their ' informers ' and 
frequently invite them down-country, accommodate them and 
supply their needs. But where they have no such local friends 
Mina gangs make short halts and obtain information for 
themselves, or, setting up as sev-bhajye or tobacco and bidi 
sellers in large towns, open a shop in the immediate vicinity of 
some rich Marwadi or sdwkar's house which they carefully 
prospect and burgle at the first favourable opportunity. The 
bright half of the month is devoted to reconnoitring and planning 
and the dark half to action. On arriving in a village, the 
gang, in twos or threes, wanders from house to house begging, 
inspecting, reconnoitring surroundings and estimating, from the 
general appearance of the occupants of the house, whether it 
is worth burgling and risking, all difficulties in the way of a 
successful raid being carefully considered ; and one or two 
will perhaps prowl about bathing ghats, wells, etc., watch the 
women and follow those who are apparently in affluent circum- 
stances, to mark down where they live. At the village next 
selected for a halt the same programme is gone through and 
so on until the gang has travelled perhaps fifty or sixty miles 
and has marked down some ten or fifteen houses, all in 
different villages. Directly the dark half of the month comes 
round, the gang go back on their tracks and commence 
operations by breaking into the house last reconnoitred. The 
other houses are taken in turn, the one first marked down 
being the last to be robbed. Before starting to commit a 
crime they tie a bhajangi or gdti t i. e., a sheet of ' khadi ' 
cloth, generally of an ashy colour, over the body, leaving 
the arms free. In this they hitch their shoes round the waist. 
They arm themselves with stones, knives, a hatchet, freshly 
cut sticks and a jemmy. Formerly they used kadchis or pallis 
(ladles) like the Bowri gydn and some gangs probably do so 
still ; but this implement has now been generally discarded in 
favour of a bolt called ganesh khila, used for fixing the body 
of a cart to the axle-bar (this they pilfer from some convenient 
cart lying idle near the village), or one of the bolts removed 
from one side of the lower wheel used on an irrigation well, 
or the iron peg commonly known as gulmekh, used for 
tethering animals or pitching tents. The heads of jemmies 
so improvised are encased in cloth and the points sharpened 
against stone. Occasionally an iron-bound lathi, exhibit 55 
of the Bombay District Police Museum, vide Plate I, with a 
jemmy concealed in it after the manner of the blade of a 
sword-stick, is carried. There is nothing in the outward 


appearance of the lathi to distinguish it from one of the 
ordinary kind carried by people of Northern and Central India. 
The jemmy is screwed on to the head of and into, the thin 
end of the lathi so neatly that its existence almost defies 
detection. About two miles or so from the scene of the 
contemplated crime they leave their superfluous clothed, 
utensils, etc., in a bundle fixed up in some tree and then make 
for the village. Entry to the house is effected by boring a hole 
in the wall in the ' bagli ' or ' rumali ' fashion or by breaking 
through the roof and lowering a' man by means of a dhotar or 
rope. In the latter case the intruder first proceeds to open 
one of the doors from the inside and to this the rest of the 
gang shift. When it is necessary to remove a large box or 
safe through a hole made in a wall, the aperture is generally 
large and square in shape. In any case the hole is usually 
neat, clean and without ragged edges. Safes are rolled to 
the hole or door, over quilts to deaden sound. Minas also 
break in through windows and lift chains by inserting a forked 
instrument between badly-fitting shutters. They are expert 
in picking locks by means of strong wire pushed into the lock 
and entwined round some essential part which is then 
pulled out forcibly. The hole (made in the ' rumali ' fashion) 
is large, almost enabling a man to sit up in it, whereas a hole 
made by Bauriahs is usually only large enough for a man to 
crawl through on his stomach. Before entering by a hole, the 
intruder investigates the other side by groping about with a 
stick, round the end of which a cloth is wrapped. As a rule 
but one man enters the house. He lights a ' taendsticker ' 
match and makes a mental note of the position of occupants 
and contents of the room. The match is then quickly put 
out and the process is repeated in every fresh apartment that 
he enters. He is only joined by others in case heavy boxes 
or safes have to be removed, or, if owing to the number of 
occupants it is considered desirable that he should be sup- 
ported. The hole in the wall is screened with a cloth to 
exclude light, air and noise and to dim the reflection on the 
road of any light which may be burning inside. Some of the 
gang guard the lanes and approaches, while others are at hand 
outside the place of ingress. One man seats himself near 
this passage through which he receives the property handed 
out by his confederates inside. During the progress of the 
burglary one of those outside intimates that all is well to his 
comrades within by imitating the squeak of a mouse. The 
approach of danger is notified by a sound resembling the cry 


of an owl. Only cash, jewellery and richly embroidered 
cloths are retained. Other articles of clothing, if taken, 
are, during retreat, either thrown away near the houses of 
depressed classes living on the outskirts of villages, deposited 
near the encampment of any wandering tribe handy, or thrust 
into some hedge or bush close by one or the other, a portion 
of the articles so disposed of being left exposed to attract 
attention. This device is adopted in order to mislead the 
police. Once the Mina burglar has got into a house he gets 
to work quickly. He explores the house quietly and cautiously 
but is not particular whether any of the occupants wakes or 
not. Should any one be disturbed or raise an alarm, he is 
at once suppressed and if necessary mercilessly attacked. To 
avoid capture or in self-defence the Mina is not particular 
about taking life, though he may not deliberately have intended 
to do so. During the progress of a crime, communication 
with one another is carried on in their own dialect without any 
attempt at disguise. 

Minas are extremely dexterous in cutting or taking off 
ornaments from women while they are asleep, especially during 
the hot weather when females are sleeping outside their 

During the commission of crime if a member of the gang 
is wounded or killed he is carried off by the rest at all costs. 
The death of a comrade during a raid is always avenged 
sooner or later. 

Mosques, mandtrs, shrines and houses of Dakots (astrol- 
ogers), washermen and sweepers are not as a rule burgled. 
But if the gang meets with repeated failures in their attempts, 
a sweeper's house is, as a propitiatory measure, burgled 
though not entered. By this act they believe they change 
their luck. 

Sometimes if a venture has proved a blank, Minas will 
dekecate in the house before leaving it, to mark their sense 
of disappointment and to revenge themselves on and insult 
the owner of the house. 

Highway Dacoity. 

The methods employed by Minas are similar to those of 
Sansis, but this form of crime is only resorted to when the 
plunder promises to be large. It is therefore very rare and 
their methods present no distinctive features. 


In custody Minas require careful guarding as they are 
always ready to take advantage of any opportunity to escape 
or attack their guard or escort. 

Mina gangs always carry a hatchet, the handle separated 
from the head when not required for 

Stock-in-trade, instruments US6, Sticks and DCn-knivCS. For hoUSC- 
and weapons used in commit- .,. ,, , , , , . , , 

ting crime. breaking they use the ganesh khilah 

(mentioned above) or other jemmy 

described in the previous heading, sticks, knives and phos- 
phorous matches. In this Presidency and probably elsewhere 
in British territory, they do not carry swords and fire-arms 
though in Rajputana and Malwa such weapons are, it is 
believed, their constant companions. 

Stolen property is not, as a rule, distributed till turned into 

cash. Among Minas the ' jamadar ' is 

Ways and means of conceal- not entitled to any extra share : all the 

ing or disposing of stolen , , J ... _, 

property. members share alike. Iwo portions 

are, however, set apart, one for dharam t 

i. e., alms and charitable purposes and the other for Mina 
widows and widows of deceased accomplices at home, also for 
menials such as barbers, cobblers, etc. 

When travelling, stolen property and incriminating articles 
are usually carried by one member of the gang, who is pre- 
ceded by two or three and followed by as many at intervals of 
two or three hundred yards. The man in the middle keeps 
his eye on the advance and rear guards who signal danger by 
flapping a cloth or vocal sounds. On receipt of the danger 
signal the man with the property strikes off across country, 
pretends to obey a call of nature, or, adopting some such ruse, 
proceeds to conceal his charge under ground. 

At each halting place the property is buried some distance 
ahead of where the gang halts. It is subsequently disposed 
of in any large city or town where they have ' receivers 'among 
Banias, Marwadis and Shroffs. But if it is the first visit of a 
giroh to a district and they have no friends there, they have 
sometimes to take property home intact ; such occasions 
are however rare. Costly clothing and valuable articles of 
jewellery are sometimes sent home by parcel post addressed 
to some associate or friend and the money-order system is 
utilized for remitting cash which reaches their families through 
these channels. 

Maile (unclean) Minas. 

The preceding note dealt with Minas known as Ujle 

(clean) Minas in contradistinction 

Name of criminal class to Mail (unclean) Minas, the subject 

of this note. The latter are divided 

into two classes : 

(1) Khairwad and 

(2) Bhilwade\ 

Both are sub-divided into a number of goths, the following 
being the best known : 


Cheeta. Seengal. 

Dankal. Sevgan. 

Dhavna. Mer. 

Jonrwal. Padiya. 





Khairwade and Bhilwade" Minas 
hail from the Rajputana States and 

Khairwades visit most of the districts in this Presidency. 

They come down in small gangs, not 
1 ' exceeding ten in number, ostensibly in 

search of labour and take up their 
residence in large towns and cities, especially business centres, 
where they secure employment as labourers in mills, at docks, 
as loaders in railway station yards or as day labourers on 
public and private works. While so employed they plan and 
commit crime within a radius of ten to fifteen miles from their 
temporary abodes. They travel down south by rail, after the 
' Divali,' and return home before the monsoon. They are 
not a nomadic tribe and in this Presidency are not accom- 
panied by families and do not travel about committing crime 
like Ujl Minas. 

Bhilwadls do not ordinarily come south but raid into some 
of the districts of Gujerat. They are hand-in-glove as a rule 
with the criminal Bhils of some of the Native States bordering 
on parts of Gujerat. 


Khainvades are tall, muscular and dark in complexion and 
generally branded on the wrists. Like 

Appearance, dress, etc. V/r . . i . i r i i ' 

Marwadis the top of the skull is shaved, 

the hair on the side of the head being allowed to grow in the 
' girdah ' fashion. They wear the beard full, roll it like 
Marwad Rajputs and mostly wear a red or white pagri tied in 
Marwadi style. A khddi (coarse cloth), dhoti, a bandi (jacket) 
and Marwadi shoes complete their attire. In short, their 
appearance and dress proclaim them as men from Marwad. 
They eat all kinds of flesh and are great liquor drinkers and 
indulge freely in opium and tobacco. They are dirty in their 
habits and offensive to the olfactory senses. 

Bhilwades in their appearance, dress and mode of living 
are akin to the Panch Mahals Bhils with whom they interdine 
and associate. 

Khairwade"s speak Khairwadi resembling Marwadi. 
Dialect and peculiarities Bhilwades speak the same dialect as 
of speech. the Bhils. 

Slang and signs, if they have any, are not known. Their 
dialect is to all intents and purposes a 

Slan? and signs used. , , . ~ . , 

slang in this Presidency. 

In their own country, Khairwades are chowkidars^ land- 
owners and cultivators and are enlisted 
Ostensible means of live- m ^g nat i ve army and police. Down- 

hhood. J . r,, 

country they work in mills, at docks, 

cotton presses, goods yards, on private and large public and 
railway works and as wood-choppers. 

The Bhilwades' means of subsistence are similar to those 
of the Panch Mahals Bhils, 

Khairwades do not assume disguises, but if questioned 

down-country pretend io be Gujars, 

Disguises adopted a*d means j^g Thakores or Thakore Raiputs. 

of identification. J . . ' . . . .. Jr . 

Bhilwades do not adopt any disguise 

nor do they attempt to conceal their identity beyond claiming 
to be Bhils. The former muffle their faces when engaged 
in crimes of violence. 

The Khairwades' favourite form of crime in this Pre- 
sidency is burglary with an occasional 

Crime to which addicted. , . ,, T->I -i i ' 1-1 

dacoity thrown in. Bhilwades, like 
Bhils, commit highway and village dacoity, robbery and cattle 



The KhairwadeV methods are practically similar to those 
of ' UiUS ' Minas and the BhihvadeV 

Methods employed in com- , J f ^ , m -, t r^ 

muting crime, and distinguish- to those of the criminal Bhils of Gujerat. 
ing characteristics likely to jhe latter usually commit offences in 

afford a clue. , 1-11 

large gangs and use violence when 
resistance is shown. 

Khairwades have no special form of jemmy. Their occupa- 
tion is generally of such a kind as to 
stock-in-trade instruments p l ace ordinary tools at their disposal 

and weapons used in commit- 111 i 

ting crime. and these they make use or tor 

criminal purposes. For the rest they 
carry sticks and knives. 

Bhilwade's when committing serious offences often carry 
swords and fire-arms, always bows and arrows. 

Khairwades bury stolen property immediately after the 
commission of an offence. Later they 

Ways and means of conceal- disDOSC of it tO Marwadi BaniaS of 
ing or disposing of stolen , V ,-r,, , , 

property. their own country. Ihey send cash 

home by money-order. They generally 

form local connections to assist them in the disposal of stolen 

Bhilwade's dispose of stolen property and cattle in their 
own country to Thakores, Kalals, etc. 

Stolen cattle are sometimes killed and consumed and the 
hides sold. 



Oudhias or Audhias are known in their own country by a 
variety of names, such as, ' Oudhias, 

Name o*"" 1 class ' Oudh-' or ' Ajodhia-washis ' or ' bashis ' 
and ' Avadhpuris.' In this Presidency 

they move about under false colors either as ' Tirathbashis,' 
' Bairagis,' ' Revadiwalas ' or ' Khunchewalas ' (sweetmeat 
hawkers), ' Gayawals ' (agents of the ' Pandas ' at Gaya and 
Benares) and Tewari Brahmins. 

They are divided into two classes, ' Unch ' or high, ( Nich ' 
or low ; the former are those of pure and the latter of mixed 

Oudhias, as the name implies, were originally inhabitants 
of Ajodhia. It is not certain when 
these people came down south and 

made their homes in the districts of Cawnpore and Fattehpur 
where they have made their head-quarters. During recent 
years some families are believed to have settled in Hulli-khedi 
Ghadenti, Ulloor, Mominabad and Hyderabad of His Highness 
the Nizam's Dominions and in Ganglakhedi of Indore. 
Isolated families are also, it is said, to be found in the districts 
of Hamirpur, Allahabad and Lucknow of the United Provinces 
of Oudh and Agra. 

The males generally lead a nomadic life, depredating 
provinces other than their own, return- 
l1 ' in g to their homes at uncertain periods ( 
to rest and dissipate on the proceeds 
of their crime. Their favourite field of operations embraces 
the Bombay Presidency, Central Provinces, Central India and 
Lower Bengal. Some are known to have travelled as far as 
Jagannath on the east coast of India and to Rameshwar in 
the extreme south, so there is practically no limit to the sphere 
of their activity. The Panjab and Sindh they avoid, it is said, 
owing to local difficulties and they have made it penal under 
their caste laws to commit crime in the tract of country lying 
between the Jamna and Ganges, known among them as the 
' Antar beit ' ( ( Antar vedi '). 

The census report of the United Provinces does not, 
it is believed, show Oudhias as a 

Population according to last j- i rr.t M 1*1 

census, and distribution. distinct class. 1 he tribe is relatively a 
small one. Owing to its nomadic and 


criminal tendencies, individuals while away from home, probably 
returned themselves as Pardeshis, Bairagis and the like, while 
in their own province they have possibly been included among 
Ajodhia-bashi Banias or as ' Unspecified.' In 1890 there 
were ascertained to be 375 Oudhias resident in Cawnpore and 
159 in Fattehpur. 

Oudhias are Hindus and worship several deities, amongst 
whom the goddess ' Kali-Mai ' is the 

Appearance, dress, etc. , . r A1 ' 11 , i i i 

chief. Above all others, she claims 

their veneration in the highest degree. They invoke blessings 
and curses in her name and seek her aid in the fulfilment of 
their criminal enterprises. An oath in her name is binding 
and her wrath is feared. Oudhias are clannish and though 
they often disagree and quarrel with one another on social 
matters or questions of individual rights, in the pursuance of 
crime they act together and sink their private differences. 

The men are mostly away from home thieving. They 
usually leave about June and return about April or May. 
They are slim, active and wiry and can travel great distances 
on foot. The females busy themselves with household duties, 
seldom seeking any form of outdoor work. Many of them 
observe purdah. Women do not accompany the men on 
their expeditions, but one or two lads in their teens are usually 
attached to every gang. 

In the districts where they reside they are reported to be 
perfectly well-behaved, well-to-do and to all appearances 
respectable in their habits. 

Their usual costume when met with in this Presidency 
consists of a small feita (head-scarf) or a white linen cap, a 
white jacket, under-vest and a short dhotar just reaching to 
the knees. Like all up-country men they always wear shoes 
and usually carry an umbrella or a stick. In addition to this 
the Oudhia generally carries a padded quilt and a coarse cloth 
sheet or two which he carries over the shoulders, often passing 
a spare dhotar over them, round his back under one arm, 
tying the dhotar in a knot in front of his body. This style of 
arranging and carrying his belongings is peculiar to the traveller 
in the part of the country he hails from. 

To carry his food-stuffs, cooking utensils, toilet requisites 
(mirror, comb, kunkoo and gopichandaii) and less innocent 
articles, he provides himself with a jhola (capacious double 
bag after the fashion of a saddle-bag) and this he slings over 
his shoulder. 


22 I 

Oudhias are very taciturn and in their replies to enquiries 
by police officers they are discreet, evasive and often im- 

Their dialect corresponds almost in all details to what is 

commonly known in these parts as 

Dialect and peculiarities t h e < Purabhia ' language, the termina- 

of speech. . , , , , . , & , & . ' 

tion ata hat or a verb in the present 

tense being invariably corrupted into duaat hai ; thus jatd ha'i 
would be spoken zsjdvat hai, and so forth. 

As a rule they drop their native style of speech and affect 
purer Hindustani when talking to outsiders. The language 
spoken by these people bears no resemblance to that spoken 
by the Bauriahs of Muzzaffarnagar for whom they are likely 
to be mistaken by reason of the similarity of the implements 
of house-breaking used by each. 

The following cant words and 
phrases are in use among Oudhias : 

Slang and signs used. 


ulahi ho gai, jhonk gai ... 

bari leo 

baru fank tleo 

mowsi asoori hey 

netha tano chhu chhalo 

na ley. 


sowndhi sehi leo par kach 

na parna. 
baru baitharo 
khalo bhaw 
jaldi asroo 
gayna se asroo 




make enquiries. 

do away with stolen property. 

the police are on us. 

offer bribe so that they may not 

parcel, letter, communication, 

put up with the beating but do 

not admit, 
melt gold. 

do your work leisurely, 
come at once, 
come out of the house, 

brass box (dubba). 
bolt, stopper, chain, or anything 

which fastens the door from 

iron safe, 









get la 












baski dena 








pan khana 


bedi ayye 









kati ho gai 

ubhai gai 





antar kodi 



head ornament, 
Deccan Brahmin. 

village patil. 

police officer, 
police thana. 
back door. 

to make a hole in the wall, 
to break, 
to open. 

a good opportunity, 
to run away, 
charcoal, paper, 

hiding place for property, 
to speak in their slang, 

have brought some property, 
rendezvous or meeting place, 
good time or season for thiev- 

to reconnoitre, 
ramoshi, watchman. 
night thieves, 


the Oudhia who breaks into the 


the look-outs, 
an Oudhia who robs from another 

those who have gone out on a 

thieving expedition. . 


Slang. Meaning. 

deraha ... one who is left behind at the 


nowshikha ... novice, 

pakya ... a confirmed criminal, 

bad-gawa ... city, 

poora ... suburbs, 

bachda ... smaller town, 

mahadu ... place of residence, 

lali . . . gang. 

The following are signs they leave behind for the guidance 
of other gangs and detached members of any particular gang. 
A mark thus C made on the roadside indicates 

the route taken. Where two or more roads join, a line is 
drawn on the side of the road or track, commencing on the 
one along which they have come and ending on the particular 
road followed, the line being drawn across any intervening 
route to be avoided. Two segments of a circle drawn thus 
^^^ on a roadside indicate that a gang has halted in the 

As a class, Oudhias have no profession, trade or business. 
In their own country they do absolutely 

Ostensible mean 9 of live- nothing and lead a life of indolence 

and luxury on the proceeds of crime. 

In this Presidency they beg in the role of Bairagis or set up as 
grocers or hawkers of sweetmeat, ice-cream etc. 

The disguise generally adopted is that of a ' Bairagi ' 

or a Brahmin pilgrim. Besides wearing 

Disguises adopted and means t h e jdmva or janev (sacred thread) 

of identification. i i i /-\ 1 1 i , 

which the Uudhia wears correctly, he 

sports tulsi or the rudrdksh beads round his neck. He also 
carefully paints his forehead in horizontal or vertical lines 
indiscriminately and the sides of his neck with gopichandan. 
The addition of the tumdi or begging bowl to his outfit com- 
pletes his disguise as a religious beggar. 

While prospecting for a likely house to break into, he 
carries his j kola which contains the necessary tools for house- 
breaking, picking and prising open locks and one or two 
cooking utensils, such as a tawd (for baking bread), a brass 
dish and a lota or a degchi. These culinary articles are 
carried about with the sole object of giving the gydn (ladle) 
and chimtd (tongs) the benefit of their company. The latter 


carried by themselves are likely to create suspicion, whereas 
the whole outfit does not and bears out the general ap- 
pearance and the protestations of the man that he is a 
religious mendicant newly arrived. A gang is sometimes 
accompanied by a woman, picked up down-country, to 
give the party an appearance of innocence and to disarm 
police suspicion. 

The appearance and movements of these strangers do not 
as a rule create suspicion of their criminal motives owing to 
familiarity with the large number of sddhus, fakirs and 
pilgrims almost incessantly passing through the country. On 
the contrary, the charitably inclined readily take advantage of 
the opportunity to distribute alms. In this respect women 
are more susceptible to the wiles of the sham mendicant and 
occasionally become familiar, thus aiding the Oudhia consider- 
ably in gaining the information he needs regarding the neigh- 

As has been observed above, away from home, they at 
times take to shop-keeping, or hawking sweets in the guise of 
up-country ' Wanis ' or ' Banis.' One of the gang opens a 
grocer's shop with a view to obtaining information for the 
benefit of the gang regarding the locality. The shop soon 
becomes a centre of inter-communication for the various 
groups of the main gang exploiting round about and for the 
interchange of correspondence which the Oudhias always 
carry on with one another and with their people at home. 
It is also a suitable place for meeting, hearing gossip, 
picking up information and temporarily depositing their 

The Oudhia is notoriously a cheat, a pick-pocket, thief and 
above all a house-breaker by day. In 

Crime to which addicted. 1^*11 ^i i 

cheating he has recourse to the devices 

and stratagems common to the inferior order of criminals, 
. e., using false ornaments as genuine and defrauding greedy 
' receivers ' on false promises. 

Oudhias of Fattehpur were, it is said, also addicted to the 
manufacture of spurious coin, but, so far as this Presidency 
is concerned, there is no evidence of their criminality in this 
direction in the present day. 

So far as is known they are not addicted to crimes of 




Among a variety of other simple methods by which 
these people swindle petty dealers, 

Methods employed m com- j j.i_ 1*1 1-1 

mitting crime and distinguish- grocers and the like is one which, 
ing characteristics likely to though not of a particularly high 

afford a clue. , & . r . , A 

order, deserves passing notice. A 

visit is made to a grocer's shop to purchase ghi for which 
a receptacle, a cocoanut or kaivit (wood-apple) shell with 
the mouth stoppered with a plug, is taken. The Oudhia 
provides himself with two stoppers or plugs. One is light, 
made of ordinary cork wound about with a rag, while the other 
is heavy, made of lead, similarly wrapped in cloth. The 
receptacle (shell) with the orifice stoppered with the leaden 
plug is first scaled ; then while pretending to clean out 
the shell before the ghi is poured in, the lighter stopper is 
substituted and with this the receptacle and its contents 
are weighed. By the exchange of plugs the tricky Oudhia 
defrauds the unsuspecting grocer of ghi equal to the differ- 
ence between the light and the heavy stopper. 

Another of his favorite devices is to decoy a ' receiver ' or 
goldsmith to a lonely place for the purchase of stolen goods 
and then to rob him of his ready-cash. 


The Oudhia is familiar with and expert at many of 
the methods of the Bhampta, but is not known to be a 
railway thief. He carries on his thieving operations in small 
gangs at fairs, in temples, on bathing ghats and in any large 
gathering, lifting bundles, removing jewellery, picking or cut- 
ting pockets, and passing away the stolen property with the 
aid of his confederates in a very short time. 

House- breaking. 

The Oudhia does not, as a rule, commit burglary after 
dark. In all the cases of house-breaking in this Presidency 
and elsewhere where Oudhias were satisfactorily known to 
be the perpetrators, it was conclusively proved that the houses 
were broken into during day-time. 

Having carefully selected the city or neighbourhood for 
exploitation, a gang consisting of eight, ten or even more, 
settles down in some out-of-the-way math or temple three 
or four miles from the actual field of their operations. Their 
first care is to ingratiate themselves with the ' poojari ' or 

B 5HI5 


keeper to whom they represent themselves as ' Tirathbashis ' 
or pilgrims travelling from one shrine to another, anxious for 
a few days' halt to beg alms to enable them to proceed on 
their journey, or, desirous of halting a few days to allow others 
of their party, who by some misadventure have got separated, 
time to rejoin ; or give some equally plausible reason for their 
stay which occasionally extends to long periods. 

The gang if a large one, later on, breaks up into groups. 
The several groups operate independently of each other in 
different directions, but one is always left at the math or temple 
which is the base, the various groups returning to it periodic- 
ally, maintaining inter-communication all the while and 
changing their sphere of operations from time to time. 

They generally work and prowl in batches of two and 
three with their jholas slung over their shoulders as described 
above. After carefully reconnoitring the locality by first 
begging for flour and alms here and there, they mark down 
a lonely house, the inmates of which are absent, and having 
satisfied themselves that they are not likely to be surprised 
or interfered with, one of them dexterously wrenches off or 
picks the lock securing the door, a back one for choice, and 
slips inside the house while his comrades keep a sharp 
look-out on all sides. In a few minutes the leader emerges 
on receiving a signal that the coast is clear. Within the 
few minutes he has been inside the house he has transferred 
to his jhola all the valuables he could lay his hands upon, 
breaking and bursting open boxes and other receptacles 
likely to contain cash or ornaments. Once out of the house 
the culprits separate, making rapidly for their base by 
different routes. Before .separating, and if they can do so 
without creating suspicion or endangering their safety, they 
divide up the spoils. 

If they can avoid it, Oudhias while in possession of stolen 
goods will not keep together ; when apart, will not, in the pre- 
sence of strangers, recognize each other and if confronted or 
questioned they will repudiate all connection with one another. 

Counterfeiting Coin. 

Their methods in the past, appear to have been similar 
to those of the ' Chhappafbands ' and ' Marwar Baoris,' 
described elsewhere, of the present day. 



Oudhias before leaving premises entered in pursuit of 
crime are generally careful, should time permit,* to replace 
boxes and other articles disturbed, in their original positions 
in order that discovery of the theft may be delayed. 

While on criminal expeditions away from their country 
Oudhias keep up a regular correspondence with their people at 
home and between themselves. 

In order to keep themselves posted in the movements and 
doings of other gangs depredating the neighbouring districts, 
they correspond through the post receiving the letters through 
the poojdri of the temple, some ' receiver ' of stolen property 
or often some respectable person who out of kindness consents 
to receive letters sent to his care till called for. 

Some Oudhias are able to read and write Nagri or Kaythi 
character and do their own correspondence, the style of which, 
especially the preamble, is typical and interesting. The letter 
opens with the names of the addressees, who may be many, 
immediately followed by another string of names of the writers, 
the suffix ' wa ' (a sign of familiarity or affection) being often 
added, thus, Bisnathwa, Piragwa and so forth. The following 
is a translation of a typical letter from some Oudhias at home 
to their caste-fellows abroad : 

" Shri. 

Shri worthy of all honor brother Bisnuwa and Attoo and Shiwcha- 
ranwa and Baldeo and Mannuwa and Sattowa and Piragwa and it is 
written to all brothers by Kashi and Bindaban and from Jugal and 
Nandkishore and Ramkishore and Narayen and Pannu and Kullok 
and Hooblal and Prashad, may Ram Ram of these reach all brothers. 
May Kali Mai do good to both sides. Further, your letter came, 
knew the contents ; further you say you take money from Balgobind, 
but he is gone west. Let it be known to Piragi that all at home are 
well. Send letters soon. Let it be known to Attoo that the money 
sent is received," etc. etc. 

Implements formerly used by Oudhias were strong iron 

jemmies about six inches in length, 

stock-in-trade, instruments SO me with a knob at one end and some 

and weapons used m commit- . , ^-.j . , , 

ting crime. without. 1 hey were pointed down or 

sharpened to different shapes to suit 

different purposes, some being flat, others square or round, 
while those solely intenHed for picking locks or lifting latches 
or bolts were lighter and curved. Those designed for breaking 
through the walls of a house or lifting up windows and doors and 
bursting open boxes were specially long and strong. As may 
well be imagined, the tell-tale appearance of these criminal 


contrivances rendered their possession or conveyance highly 
risky. The shrewd Oudhia was not slow to realise this serious 
drawback and with his usual resourcefulness pirated the 
Bauriah gyAn (ladle with pointed or sharpened, often steel- 
tipped, handle). The gyAn, exhibit 38 of the Bombay District 
Police Museum, vide Plate VI, in the hands of the Oudhias 
is, however, smaller and more delicate than the one used by 
the Bauriah. 

For the purposes of lock-picking, in which the Oudhia 
excels, he carries a pair of strongly-made sharp-pointed tongs 
and country knife with pointed haft, furnished with a remov- 
able wooden handle, which he uses for the larger type of 
lock, whereas for the smaller variety he carries smaller 
implements fashioned after articles of daily use, such as 
large-size needles, nail-parers, curved knives, bits of strong 
steel wire, ear-cleaners and similar things not likely to create 

For opening doors chained from inside the Oudhia has hit 
upon a very novel yet simple contrivance. This is but a 
strong slip of bamboo about nine inches long and an inch in 
width, notched into V shape at one end. This bamboo fork 
is inserted between the panels of the door and with it the 
inside chain is either lifted or pushed back. The Oudhia 
when questioned usually explains that this bamboo fork is used 
when baking his bread. He would have you believe that he 
holds up the bread by its edge in the forked end while he 
turns it on the fire with the tongs. 

As the Oudhia commits crime far away from his home and 
is constantly moving about from place 

Ways and means of conceal- to p l ace he is Under the necessity of 
mg or disposing of stolen , . l . f . J 

property. disposing ot stolen property as soon 

as possible. He has his ' receivers ' in 

the various places he is familiar with and with their help soon 
manages to convert gold and silver ornaments into ready-cash 
which he promptly remits home by postal money-orders. 

Oudhias often send stolen property to their country intact 
by parcel post. They occasionally too, despatch their ' loot ' 
by railway parcels. 

Sometimes gold and silver ornaments are melted in 
small crucibles which they themselves make of gopichandan 
finely powdered, sifted, kneaded with a little cotton-wool to 
make them more plastic and dried in the shade. Pending 
disposal of the property it is buried for the moment in the 


vicinity of their halting places : they seldom if ever carry about 
the proceeds of crime. 

Sometimes in case of a large haul, buried property is 
left undisturbed and the gang moves away till enquiry has 
abated. Later, one of the gang returns in the get-up of a 
Brahmin fortune-teller. His object is to ascertain whether 
local bad characters or up-country criminals are suspected and 
to acquire this information he even visits the house robbed on 
the pretext of furnishing the owner with a clue to the culprits by 
the use of mantras (incantations) for the purpose. Should he 
discover that ' Pardeshis,' ' Bairagis,' or such like foreigners 
are suspected, no attempt is made to remove the property till 
some considerable time has elapsed ; if otherwise, the gang 
returns to the locality and the property is then unearthed and 
disposed of. 


A comprehensive list giving the sub-divisions, clans and 
other useful information regarding the 

Name of criminal class T- ,1 . r^i XT ii_ r i? * - 

or tribe. Pathans of the North- West frontier 

Provinces is given in a small work 

entitled " A Dictionary of Pathan Tribes of the North-West 
Frontier of India, compiled under the orders of the Quarter- 
master General in India," supplied to all District and Railway 
Superintendents of Police with Circular No. C. I. 136, dated 
the 4th August 1905, from the Inspector General of Police, 
Bombay Presidency. All the tribes referred to in this dictionary 
cannot be classed as criminal, but there is a concensus of 
opinion among officers of this Presidency that the Pathan 
who visits these parts is nearly always a bad character calling 
for the attention of the police. Be he a Waziri, a Swati or 
an Afridi, a British subject or a trans-frontier man, once he 
has entered our Presidency he is a Pathan, sometimes termed 
Rohilla, Cabuli, Peshavvari, Khan, Afghan, Pashtuni, Peshini 
or Kandahari. 

The criminal Pathans met with in this Presidency are 
mostly from the independent or semi-independent tribes 
beyond the North-West Frontier, chiefly Swat, Buner, Bajour, 
Tirah and the neighbourhood of Kandahar and Peshawar. 
They are mostly Yusufzais (including Khudu Khels), upper 
or lower Mohmands (including Halimzais, Tarakzais, Baezais, 
Khwaezais), Tarkanis (including Salarzais), Safis, Afridis 
(especially Usman Khels and Suleman Khels), Ut Khels and 

Pathans are of course distinct from Sindhi Beluchis 
otherwise called Iranis who are also to be met with travelling 
in gangs with families and children in parts of this Presidency. 

The Pathan under consideration is not a nomad. Hail- 
ing from Afghanistan and North-West 
Frontier Provinces, he comes down 
from up country and settles for a 

while in some town or village visiting other places where he 

has friends, as circumstances require 

Bombay and its suburbs such as Ghaut Kopar and Kurla ; 
Poona, Hubli, Belgaum, Surat, Bhusawal in 


Ahmedabad and other places have from time to time formed 
the head-quarters of organizations which have given much 
trouble until some crime more daring than usual has brought 
them to the notice of the police. 

Path an s usually commit serious organized crime at a con- 
siderable distance from their place of residence, sometimes 
travelling even hundreds of miles by rail for the purpose. 
Their movements by road are very rapid and they will cover 
as many as sixty miles at a stretch. In a case on record 
information showed that Pathan dacoits, retreating from the 
scene of a heavy temple dacoity, accomplished not less than 
a hundred and fifty miles in two days. 

In respect to ordinary crime such as house-breaking and 
thefts they are not particular and commit these at a distance 
from and in or near the town or village they are temporarily 
settled in. 

With the exception of a few individuals to be met with 
here and there who have formed connections in this Presidency 
and have no hankering after a return to their country, Pathan s 
visiting the Bombay Presidency are not accompanied by their 

So far as experience in this Presidency is concerned they 
have no particular season for coming down south or returning 
north. They come and go as the spirit moves them. A 
good many have settled in this Presidency and have inter- 
married with local women and raised families. 

It is difficult to even estimate the numerical strength of 

these undesirables passing through 

Population according to last or residing in this Presidency. A 

census, and distribution. . . - . , ' 

rough estimate of their strength comes 

to about 2,000 in the mofussil districts of the Presidency 

Few are really settled and most of them pay periodical 
visits to their north country homes. Many never settle at 
all but travel from district to district and within a year or so 
return north. 

The Pathan's appearance and dress are sufficiently 
distinctive to proclaim his caste. His 

Appearance, dress, etc. r .. . f 

physique is excellent and tar superior 

to that of any class indigenous to the Presidency. He is 
broad and well built, medium to tall in stature, strong, 
muscular, hardy and energetic, with Caucasian features, fair, 


ruddy complexion and haughty bearing. By temperament he 
is treacherous, impetuous, avaricious, excitable and sonic- 
times even fanatical, fond of good living, very hospitable to 
his countrymen, of cheerful disposition and not incapable of 
appreciating a joke. 

Pathans cultivate an aloofness of manners in respect to 
the natives of this Presidency on whom they look down ; on 
the other hand they are generally avoided by the latter 
because of their truculent, overbearing manners and the 
suspicion that most people entertain regarding them. They 
are as a rule punctilious in the matter of religious observ- 
ances. They generally swear by the saints ' Pir Baba,' ' Kaka 
Saheb ' and ' Loezwan ' (the Bagdad pir) and in the case of 
Swatis by ' Akhun Saheb.' However, it is well to bear in 
mind that no criminal Pathan holds any oath as binding. 

The Pathan 's costume consists of white baggy paijtimas 
or trousers, tight at the ankle and very loose above, a loose 
shirt, a coloured coat or waistcoat of cloth or cotton and a 
pagri or lungi worn with or without a kulah or skull cap. 
Some wear the fez in lieu of or under the turban. Sometimes 
the waistcoat and kulah are embroidered. Those in indigent 
circumstances dye their clothes blue to save washing. Most 
Pathans are dirty in habits and dress. Some wear their hair 
long and beards full, others shave or clip according to fancy ; 
others again, specially Mohmands and those from Swat, wear 
locks of hair, often curled, on the temples. 

The Pathan's mother tongue is Pashto. The language 
spoken by the Western Afghans, or 

Dialect and peculiarities Burr Pushtanah as they are called, is 

different from that used by the Eastern 

Afghans or Lurr Pushtanah. A marked difference between the 
two is that the latter pronounce some of the sibilants as 
gutturals for example ' sh ' as ' kh ' and ' z ' as ' g.' ' Sheen ' 
(meaning green) is pronounced by the Eastern Afghans 
(including those who hail from Cabul or Peshawar side) as 
' kheen ' ; ' Pashto ' as ' Pakhto ' and ' Khudae zo ' (God 
knows) as ' Khudae go.' The frontier dialect is further 
contaminated by Peshawari and Panjabi colloquialism. 

The Western Afghan's pronunciation is generally softer 
than that of his brother of the East. 

Pathans down country can also speak Hindustani and 
pick up the language of the district in which they have settled 
or in which they make any prolonged stay, but their pronun- 


elation is generally faulty and few are able to master any 
language foreign to them with any approach to perfection or 
without betraying their nationality. 

Pathans are believed to have no slang. They have how- 
ever a system of intercommunication 
by correspondence whereby a hidden 

meaning is conveyed through the medium of ordinary lan- 
guage a sort of cipher arrangement. For instance, " It is 
useless coming here ; the roads are too hot," means " It is no 
good coming ; the police are on the alert." ' The weather is 
nice; send up two or three shawls," means " All is well here; 
two or three of you come for the work in hand." 

The following rough translation of a post-card intercepted 
by the Ratnagiri police in February 1903 illustrates how 
correspondence is kept up between individuals belonging no 
doubt to a common organization and information as to likely 
areas for exploitation communicated : 

" To Kasir Khan and Ajim Khan. 
From Lode Khan. 

Salaam. I became a servant to Kalud Khan and Mahomed Gul 
Khan at Chachoda, Malwa in Gwalior State. I was pulling on well 
and happy in the Bombay vegetable market. I shall come to 
Bombay to see you at the end of my service here. If by God's grace 

you write to me write to the following address 

Please let me know the particulars of the market there." 

Here ' vegetable market ' and ' market ' no doubt convey 
some hidden meaning to the recipient. 

The following is a translation of a communication which 
fell into the hands of the Raipur police in 1902 : 

" The medicine is ready ; your presence is required. The time is 
propitious. The saheb (Circle Inspector) is away. The medicine 
has been prepared by Lakkar." 

Here ' medicine ' no doubt means criminal plan or plot 
arranged by one Lakkar, probably a local bad character. 

If they require the assistance of some able-bodied con- 
federates to carry out some important design they will convey 
their meaning somewhat in the following manner: 

" We have no sticks, so please send three or four stout 
sticks" ; or, " I am in need of money, please send Rs. 10." 
The ' sticks ' and ' rupees ' meaning men. 


When visiting this Presidency the Path an, as a rule, makes 

for some large town where employment 

Ostensible means of live- j s procurable, sets up as an itinerant 

lihood. , r , - ' , 

hawker of sundry goods or as a money- 
lender. Many of them are employed by sdwktirs to recover 
debts or collect rent from backward tenants. The Pathan is 
generally successful in this line owing to his imposing appear- 
ance, uncouth manners, reputation for truculence, tyrannical 
methods and the tenacity with which he persecutes the 
recalcitrant debtor. 

A few take up simple contracts for earth-work and the 
like on railways and sometimes obtain employment as peons 
and guards in public offices. Others are petty shop-keepers, 
keep tea shops and refreshment stalls, are grain and firewood 
dealers, knife grinders, private watchmen and servants and 
hnngis in mosques. Occasionally they adopt the role of 
religious mendicants and live on the charity of their caste 
fellows or practise quackery. 

Among the well-to-do are money-lenders on a small scale 
who are invariably given to extortion and tyrannical practices, 
to recover their dues, exacting exorbitant interest. They 
are said never to lose sight of a loan, but will reimburse them- 
selves years after it was given, travelling expensive journeys 
to recover quite a small amount ; this keeps up the fear they 
instil. Their customers are generally the poorer and lower 
castes such as Mahars, Mangs, Kolis, Kunbis, Bhils, sweepers, 
etc., who enjoy no credit with the Marwadi or Bania and who 
yield to the temptations offered by the Pathan to borrow 
money without a note-of-hand or any security and, at large 
railway centres, the subordinate staff. As soon as the month 
is up the Pathan gives his debtor no peace. He is at his door 
before day dawns to demand his dues, usually armed with a 
big stick which he displays in a threatening manner while 
making his demand in persuasive tones. It is no use the 
unhappy victim endeavouring to put off his persecutor by 
asking him to call again, or attempting to evade the interview 
by urging a pressing engagement elsewhere. The Pathan 
is not to be baffled by subterfuges of this sort. He will 
establish himself in the doorway of the house and give the 
occupants an unpleasant time by his importunities to settle up. 
He is not devoid of a sense of humour and will meet a request 
to ' phir kar <io ' (' call again, ' literally to ' turn and come '), by 
turning round in a circle where he is standing saying good 


humouredly that he has complied with the request ; or, if asked 
to ' dam pakado] i. e., to have patience (literally, to ' hold his 
breath ') he will shut his mouth and hold his nose for a couple 
of seconds (hence his nickname ' nakdhara ') and urge that he 
has done what was asked. He can only be got rid of by 
payment either in full or in part, of principal or interest. 
Generally he persuades his debtor to pay what is due, and to 
borrow again immediately after, a facility which he is not loathe 
to provide. When the victim happens to be a ' saheb's ' 
servant, the Pathan may be seen loitering about outside the 
compound, on the look-out to catch a glimpse of his quarry. 
The latter becomes instinctively aware of his enemy's presence 
and finds his duties so pressing inside the bungalow that the 
Pathan, after hours of patient waiting, retires unsuccessful for 
the time being but bent on more effective tactics, especially 
if he happens to know that his victim has received his month's 
pay. He lies in wait at some convenient distance from the 
bungalow after dark when he knows the man will venture out 
either to go to his house, to the shops for his food, or to the 
bazar to pay other debts, or to indulge in a drink, and when 
he meets him, soon has his claim satisfied by persuasion or 
force, if the other party has any money at all on his person. 

They do not as a rule, have resort to the civil court to 
recover debts, preferring their own methods ; but occasionally 
they do, and when this happens it will usually be found that 
their claims have been greatly exaggerated, if they are not 
altogether groundless. 

The itinerant hawker deals in cloth, assafcetida, cutlery, 
pocket-books, dried fruits said to possess medicinal value, 
drugs, antimony, mamira, nagina, rings, stones and cheap 
jewellery, pictures, collyrium and the like. He sometimes 
plays bagpipes, makes flutes and poses as a musician. Their 
characteristic way of doing business in the sale of cloth, 
shawls, etc., is on credit, for some months. When the time is 
up, usually after the harvest season, the Pathan goes round 
to recover his dues, and his methods of doing this are the 
same as those of his money-lending brother. The timid and 
impecunious villager, cowed by threats and acts calculated to 
offend his religious susceptibilities and of violence, speedily 
regrets having ever succumbed to the tempting offers of the 
Pathan cloth merchant. 

It must be remembered that people are generally very 
ready to buy clothes on credit, or to raise a loan, but when 


it comes to payment or repayment, as the case may be, tlu-ir 
feelings of gratitude towards an erstwhile friend in need 
very readily change to resentment against the creditor who is 
so hard hearted as to worry them for money which it is very 
inconvenient to pay ! 

That they are able to prey on the villagers is however due 
to a great extent to the want of back-bone in the latter who 
make no sort of stand against these Pathans and are intimi- 
dated by and submit to the most absurd proceedings, even 
wrongful confinement and threats. The villagers are ready 
to complain but will never come forward to support a charge. 
Wherever these travelling Pathans exist there is no doubt 
they exercise tyranny and oppression in their dealings with the 
villagers and are a nuisance and source of anxiety. 

Illustrative of the dread these men are held in, it may be 
noted that the Marwadi money-lender will on occasion hand 
over a bond for say Rs. 1,000 to a Pathan who pays Rs. 900 
for it and undertakes collection of the outstandings. 

Some few deal in horses or set up as shoe-makers and 
others purchase and export old and new ammunition boots, 
belts, etc., to their country. 

In Gujerat many a Pathan is employed as watchman or 
chowkiat by Par sis and Banias and some are temporarily 
engaged by one party to a dispute over land to intimidate the 
opposite side. A small number have taken to cultivation. 

In short, Pathans can turn their hands to anything, from 
trading in any commodity and money-lending, to working as 
day labourers, drivers of conveyances, watchmen and bullies. 
But whatever their occupation may be it is almost certain that 
most supplement their honest earnings by illegal gains derived 
from the perpetration of crime. 

There are of course a large number of Pathans in the 
native army who have enlisted in the regiments of the 
Bombay Presidency. Excellent fighting material though no 
doubt they are, some are certainly black sheep and commit 
crime. The most favourable opportunity for the latter comes 
when a regiment under orders for transfer, is about to move. 

In so much as they do not commit crime by stealth and 

their language and appearance pro- 

Disguises adopted and means claims them, the adoption of disguises 

of identification. . .. i i i- i i i 

is not favoured by ratnans nor would 
any be of much use. Occasionally however they have been 


known to put on portions of discarded police uniforms when 
perpetrating a serious offence, and an instance is known where 
two, who passed themselves off as Sadhus, were found with 
house-breaking implements on their persons. 

When travelling from one place to another, in order to 
avoid inconvenient police enquiries, they sometimes change 
their costume substituting tight trousers or dhotars for their 
baggy paijdmas and pass themselves off as local Mahomedans. 

They change their names frequently and when questioned 
always give a false account of their movements. 

During the actual commission of crime they conceal their 
faces and discard their characteristic dress in favour of 
something more in keeping with the costume of the people 
of the country. 

They also endeavour to maintain a strict silence and if 
required to speak in order to give warning of approaching 
danger, etc., they use Urdu words and are as brief and to 
the point as possible. 

Pathans when arrested down-country and questioned, gen- 
erally give the vaguest if not positively incorrect information 
regarding themselves and their native places. Thus, men 
from the Baluchistan border will say they come from Pishin 
(a sub-division of the Quetta district) ; others from Peshawar 
side will aver that they come from Khorasan or Swat Buner ; 
while some will state that their native place is Yaghistan or 
Yajhistan which merely means independent territory, i. <?., the 
tract of country lying between British India and Afghanistan. 
To establish the identity of a Pathan, all or as many as possi- 
ble of the following details are necessary name, father's 
name, tribe and sub-section, village, the name of district in 
which it is situated, malik or headman's name, descriptive roll 
and, if possible, thumb impressions. It should be remembered 
that there are no police stations in " Independent-territory." 

There is ample evidence on record to show that when the 
Pathan travels southward in the garb 

Crime to which addicted. f , , , , . - . 

ot a petty hawker or trader, his real 

mission is crime which not infrequently, beginning with extor- 
tion or blackmailing, developes into something more serious, 
until a small C9lony of these people terrorize the locality in 
which they have planted themselves and commit every form 
of violence and crime which their greed or lust may dictate. 


Pathans are principally a source of danger however, because 
of the organized dacoity on a large scale usually accompanied 
by great violence, occasionally highway robbery and dacoity, 
house-breaking and thefts, to which they are addicted. 

In Southern India they are much dreaded as temple 
dacoits ; in the north they are reputed to be rifle thieves. 
They occasionally commit murder or grievous hurt as the result 
of excitement, in order to wreak vengeance, or during the 
commission of serious crime. 

Most Pathans are receivers of stolen property from local 
bad characters, some are reported to be note forgers and 
utterers (though instances that have come to light in this Presi- 
dency are few and far between) and not one would resist the 
temptation to smuggle arms, ammunition and opium if he 
got the chance. 

Passing off ornaments of base metal as genuine and 
deceiving the unwary by planting some spurious ornament on 
the road, effecting a 'find' and allowing the dupe to keep it 
for a consideration, are forms of cheating in which a few cunning 
Pathans in large towns indulge. 

Now and again Pathans employed by sdivkdrs to collect 
dues commit criminal breach of trust in respect of money they 
collect for their master, and decamp. 

Here and there they have been suspected of using arsenic 
and chloroform in the commission of crime. 

Possessed as they are of a spirit of arrogance and bullying, 
they also not infrequently assault public servants in the dis- 
charge of their duties. Instances are known of Pathans 
having enticed away children and relieved them of their orna- 
ments ; this form of crime is not however common with them. 

Up country, Pathans are credited with being railway 
thieves and pick-pockets, but so far as is known at present, 
they have not developed this propensity in this Presidency. 
Their modus operandi appears to be to hover about railway 
stations and rob passengers sleeping on the platforms, in the 
passenger sheds or dharamsdlds and to rob passengers who 
may drop off to sleep in the trains. 

They rarely commit petty crime, their activities being 
directed rather towards the commission of offences likely in 
yield a rich liar\ 


As a class they are much given to gambling. Pathans 
from Hashtnagar, Adezai and Matani are, it is said, open to 
employment as hired assassins. 

For information regarding buildings to be burgled, Pathans 
depend a good deal on gamblers and 

Methods employed in com- f i i t j i T.. 

mitting crime and distinguish- other local bad characters. I hey 
ing characteristics likely to cannot be considered expert house- 

afford a clue. . . 111- 

breakers, their methods being some- 
what crude and unskilled. They literally force their way 
through window or door or enter by making an unusually large 
hole in the wall and take all they can lay hands on. Some- 
times the ' bagli ' operation is performed on doors and 
windows with a large-size gimlet, the first hole being enlarged 
by a series of others made in the wood-work round the first. 
Thus, a sufficiently large aperture having been made, the hand 
is inserted and the fastening undone. If disturbed during 
operations inside a house, they resort to intimidation and 
threats, displaying sharp, naked blades to instil fear. 

The weapons they carry are unhesitatingly used if resist- 
ance is offered or capture attempted. Should' an alarm be 
raised they decamp and trust to their resemblance to one 
another to save them from subsequent recognition. 

It is when Pathans take to dacoity that their organi- 
zation and modus operandi possess special features. Their 
preparations for the perpetration of a crime, their clandestine 
meetings with their ' informers,' their secret consultations and 
plans for concentration and execution, display great skill and 
forethought. As a rule one or two local bad characters are 
taken into confidence and commissioned to obtain useful 
information and to act as guides. Or one of the conspirators 
takes up his residence in some locality as a quack or some- 
thing of the kind with the sole object of prospecting the 
premises marked down for attack. 

The Pathans' ostensible profession of hawker or money- 
lender has the advantage of enabling them to go about from 
district to district keeping their eyes and ears open, forming 
connections with local bad characters and of marking down 
suitable places to rob. They generally select isolated houses 
in towns and cities and commit the burglary or dacoity in some 
force. Occasionally a Pathan when employed as a servant 
with some wealthy sdivkdr, after ascertaining all he wants to 
know, takes leave of his employer on the pretext that he wants 
to return home. He then organizes a gang and brings off a 


successful raid ; or perhaps information is communicated to 
distant friends who, acting thereon, swoop down and loot the 
servant's master, the informant making a display of loyalty 
during the attack and remaining in service for some time after- 
wards to avert suspicion. 

If temple raids are contemplated, some Hindu, usually from 
up-country, posing perhaps as a trader, is employed to 
prospect the building and acquaint the gang with the ins and 
outs of the place. 

A careful survey of the locality is undertaken by one or two 
of the leaders and close enquiries as to the nature of resistance 
likely to be met with are made. A time when the local 
fire-arms have gone to the police station for registration is an 
opportunity not to be lost. 

Generally the house or temple to be looted is situated 
somewhere miles distant by rail and road and a rendezvous 
having been appointed a move is made singly or by twos and 
threes, to different stations on the line whence a day's ^ march 
or so brings them to the meeting place. 

Being joined here by their local ' informers/ should any have 
been engaged, they make a start at dusk for the scene of the 
proposed crime a few miles distant. A Pathan dacoity is 
rarely carried out without fire-arms, a revolver, if obtainable, 
being a favourite weapon. The village is entered or temple 
approached as quietly as possible. If the former boasts of a 
small police post, steps are taken to prevent assistance issuing 
from that direction and if practicable fire-arms belonging to the 
police are forcibly secured. Arrived at their goal, all caution 
is thrown to the winds and the attack as a rule commences 
with the breaking in of doors, to the accompaniment of stones 
hurled in all directions and fire-arms discharged at random. 
This is intended to and generally succeeds in, paralysing any 
meditated opposition. The house once entered, boxes, cup- 
boards, etc., are rifled, floors dug up and every nook and 
crannie searched for ornaments and cash. 

Persons found on the premises are maltreated with a "view 
to forcing them to reveal where the treasure is hidden. Should 
any one offer resistance, woe to him, for the Pathan's lust and 
blood once aroused, a man's life is of no account. As a rule 
Pathans do not outrage women. An hour or two may elapse 
ere the intruders emerge having ransacked the building and 
secured everything of value they could lay hands on. The 


gang then decamps across fields and through jungle paths 
often putting ten or fifteen miles between themselves and the 
scene of crime before a halt is called. Each member of the 
party then submits to search, the spoils are valued and shares 
apportioned. This completed the gang splits up, members 
returning, as they came, to their respective abodes by devious 

When crime is rife in a district, Pathans take advantage 
of the opportunity to be specially active, trusting that their 
misdeeds will be attributed to the local bad characters and 
when they combine with these, they lend a very undesirable 
stiffening to their less robust confederates. They will often 
lead ostensibly respectable lives for years on end, completely 
hoodwinking the police and when their opportunity arrives 
will bring off a dacoity on a large scale and clear out. 

Occasionally ponies are made use of by some of a gang 
when proceeding to and returning from the scene of a dacoity. 

One form of theft is perhaps peculiar to Pathans. Under 
the pretext of looking for old coins of a certain year, or 
exchanging foreign coins for British rupees, they visit some 
shroff's place of business or some ordinary shop and asking 
for coins of the kind they pretend to be on the look-out for or 
require and promising a small commission, they induce the 
money-changer or shop-keeper to show any specimens he may 
have or produce cash, as the case may be. While examining 
the coins they secrete one or two, perhaps about their persons, 
when the owner's attention is diverted and then make off. 

Pathans are absolutely staunch to each other and will not, 
as a rule, split, and if one of the gang is in difficulties others 
will generally try to save him. If implicated in a serious case 
they sometimes resist arrest by the police and should always 
be very carefully guarded when in custody. 

Individuals are difficult to identify as all are so alike to the 
simple villager, and when questioned, they assume the most 
childlike innocence and pretend not to understand. 

In a case of a Pathan dacoity or house-breaking in which 
the inmates are roused, it is usually easy to determine the 
perpetrators of the crime. Pathans cannot effectively conceal 
their identity and are easily recognized as such by the 
complainants, nor can they move about the country without 
being noticed. 

B 51416 


Their impunity lies chiefly in the great distances from 
which they usually operate and the extent of the area from 
which the gang concentrates and over which it afterwards 

The Pathan at the best of times is somewhat of a wolf 
among sheep in this part of India and his hereditary instincts 
as a frontier tribesman are to regard predatory expeditions as 
quite an honourable means of livelihood. 

In respect to cheating by deceiving the unwary with some 
bogus ornament ' found ' on the road, their methods are 
very similar to those of the Vaghri, except that in the case of 
the Pathan he picks up the valuable and after much discus- 
sion consents to his dupe keeping it for whatever cash the 
latter is prepared to part with. 

Highway robbery and dacoity is not so common among 
Pathan criminals as dacoities and crimes of violence in build- 
ings. Their methods in the commission of road dacoity and 
robbery show no characteristic difference from those of local 
criminals. As a rule, however, they will not exploit a road on 
chance. They plan a highway dacoity on definite information 
promising a good haul, and robbery is usually committed 
without premeditation and on the spur of the moment. 

Criminal breach of trust is usually committed by the 
Pathan servant of a money-lender after the former has, by his 
honesty in the discharge of his duty, gained the confidence 
of his employer. The sdwkdr entrusts him with a commission 
to make an unusually large amount of collections. This is 
the dishonest Pathan's opportunity. He abuses the trust 
reposed in him, collects the money and disappears. 

They are artful and versatile in their methods of smuggling 
arms and ammunition. Sometimes the article.- are cleverly 
concealed about the person, at others in innocent looking 
packages or bandies or consignments which would ordinarily 
never excite suspicion. A revolver and fifty-nine cartridges have 
been found in a railway passenger's bundle, made up of a 
" Koran " wrapped up in six coloured handkerchiefs, the 
weapon and cartridges being placed between the leaves of the 
book. Similarly one hundred and three revolver cartridges have 
been f.)und concealed in the stuffing of a pillow taken on a 
railway journey. 

In the years 1898 and 1899 a series of burglaries accom- 
panied with loss of property, consisting of jewellery and 

PAT HANS. 243 

valuable cloths, took place in Poona city and cantonments. 
Churches and residences of Europeans were mostly burgled. 
During the course of the police enquiry suspicion was directed 
against Pathan sepoys of a regiment stationed at Poona, and 
in consequence of reliable information, the quarters and the 
baggage packed up and about to leave by rail of a Subhedar 
of the regiment, his orderly and two other privates were 
searched with the result that property stolen from the churches 
and residences mentioned above and house-breaking imple- 
ments were recovered from the Subhedar's quarters and the 
baggage. Four Pathans belonging to the regiment, including 
the Subhedar and two outsiders, were eventually placed on 
their trial, all excepting the Subhedar who got off owing to 
some technical flaw in the evidence were convicted and 
sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. 

This illustrates the remarks already made in this note that 
with all their qualifications as soldiers some of the Pathan 
element in native regiments is not altogether above 

When committing dacoity Pathans arm themselves with 

stout sticks (sometimes iron-ringed), 

Stock-in-trade instruments knives or daggers, swords, fire-arm s, 

and weapons used in commit- ti i i i 'c 

ting crime. specially pistols and even revolvers it 

they can procure them. They have 

also been known to carry axes and crowbars which are occa- 
sionally left at the scene of the offence or are thrown away 
during the retreat. 

Pathans have no house-breaking implement peculiar to 
themselves. They make use of anything they can get hold 
of, such as crowbars, iron nails, spikes, gimlets, etc., according 
to fancy and usually carry knives, sticks, frequently candles, 
matches and keys. 

Scales and weights and appliances for melting gold and 
silver are occasionally found in the houses of criminal Pathans. 

They are very distrustful of one another when it comes 

to a division of spoil and are impatient 

Ways and means of con- to rece i ve their shares. Stolen pro- 

ceahng and disposing of stolen ... i j* *J J 

property. perty is therefore, as a rule, divided 

immediately after the commission of a 

crime. If the gang happens to be composed of intimate 
friends, this rule may possibly be departed from and apportion- 
ing of shares deferred till valuables have been disposed of by 
sale by one or two of the leading spirits. 


When returning from the scene of a crime by rail, Pathans, 
knowing they are objects of suspicion with the police and 
liable to search at any moment, are reported to occasionally 
entrust stolen property to some friendly local Mahomedan for 
conveyance, rather than carry it themselves. When this plan 
is adopted the man with the booty travels by the same train 
but in a different compartment altogether. 

An instance has come under notice from the Central Pro- 
vinces Police Gazette which shows that Pathans are capable of 
concealing coins under their testicles : the necessity therefore 
for very close search of Pathans arrested on suspicion is 

Marwadis, Bohras, Khojas, Gujars, goldsmiths, shroffs, 
local Mahomedans and money-lenders, etc., are according to 
circumstances their ' receivers.' Loot obtained by crime in one 
part of India is frequently disposed of in another. 

Property is sometimes sent home in charge of a trusted 
friend or relative when it is carried secreted on the person, in 
a guda (leather bag to carry provisions) or the baggage. 

Where property cannot be disposed of immediately without 
risk, it is buried under ground or concealed in the manner 
common to most criminals, though experience shows that this 
is not always done. In one important case part of the loot 
was found some days after the crime on the person of one of 
the culprits. When concealed under ground, property and 
incriminating articles are usually very cunningly buried, for 
instance, in houses under cooking places, or in front of the 
house with plants grown over the spot, and so on. They are 
generally buried deep. 

Sansis and Berias. 

Sansis and Berias are Hindus belonging to one main stock 

and descended from two brothers. 

^ttibe 1 They are divided into two principal 

clans, Malha and Bidhoo or Kalkar, 

which are again sub-divided into a number of goths, the best 
known of which are as under : 

Jhojha. Gaddo. Popat. 

Belia. Kothan. Sadha. 

Patia. Dhapo. Bhura. 

Gehela. Raichand. Bhana. 

Chandoowada. Syahan. Dursa. 

Tamaichi. Dahiya. 

Sansis are also known by different names in this Presi- 
dency and other provinces, for instance as Sansi Kanjars, 
Adodiyas, Popats, Ghagarias, Ghagra Paltan, Hadkutias, 
Chharas, Geedhiyes, Haboodes, Kajarhatiyes, Kanchires, 
Chirokharwals, Bhanthus or Bhantoodes, Kanjar Bediyas, 
Pomblas, Bagorias and Unchalainga (i. e., short petticoat) or 
Bailwale Kanjars. 

A wandering tribe, they have no special habitat nor 
apparently any permanent interests 
or connections anywhere, though in 

Bharatpur and Dholpur States, it is understood, steps have 

been taken to settle some of the tribe. 

They are to be met with practically all over India. Sansis 

are a wandering class. They travel 
' about in gangs of varying strength ' 

with their families, bullocks, cows, 
male buffaloes, donkeys, ponies, sheep, goats and dogs. The 
last mentioned of these animals are usually small mongrels 
with a terrier strain, mostly stolen or bred from types dis- 
honestly obtained during their peregrinations. Sansis never 
put up in towns or villages ; they invariably encamp two or 
three miles off, away from the beaten track and in the 
vicinity of a water-supply, and if possible within easy reach 
of the cover of jungle or crops, in any case on a site where 
surprise is not easy. They shun all habitations, temples, 
dkaranisdlds and the like. Each encampment or dera has 


a headman known as ' naik ' or ' sarganah.' He is socially 
and criminally their leader, is selected on his capabilities 
as such, and whether he participates in a crime or not, 
is entitled to a five per cent, tribute in addition to an equal 
share in the spoils with the rest of the gang. Sansis live in 
pals or snrkis (grass screens). Gangs are more or less inac- 
tive in respect to movements, during the monsoon, pitching 
their camp near some small village in a locality where they 
may have made friends among the village or local police ; but 
for purposes of crime the able-bodied avail themselves of 
breaks in the monsoon to leave camp and commit offences. 
With the expiry of the rainy season they resume their wander- 
ings. It often happens that several gangs concentrate during 
the monsoon at some pre-arranged place. On such occasions 
their numerical strength including the families runs to even 
hundreds. Ordinarily, individual gangs do not exceed 
twenty families. 

With the exception of sheeprlifting, they are careful not 
to commit crime in any village while in camp near it. In the 
event of a promising house in such a village being noted, 
Sansis will remove their encampment ten or fifteen miles, or 
even to a greater distance, and allow some time to elapse 
before burgling it. 

In pursuit of crime, men in small gangs freely utilize the 
railways, making long journeys both by road and by rail, 
covering sometimes as much as forty or fifty miles on foot to 
regain their encampment. When men leave their deras by rail, 
there is no limit to the sphere of their activities ; by road their 
field of operations ordinarily extends to a radius of thirty 
to fifty miles. 

As a class, Sansis and Berias are of medium build and 
stature, strong, wiry and agile. They 
are determined and ruthless in the 

commission of crime. Their women are often slender, good- 
looking and well formed, those of the Berias being of a coarser 
type, dirtier and more untidy. 

Sansis generally allow the beard to grow and wear their 
hair long, but latterly have taken to shaving both head and 
chin. Berias, except for the moustache and a tuft of hair on 
the skull, are clean shaved. Berias always sleep on cots ; 
Sansis seldom. Beria women go about begging ; Sansi women 
as a rule do not. Beria women generally wear dirty white 
clothes and do not wear bangles though very occasionally an 


individual will be found wearing a metal wristlet ; Sansi 
women object to wearing white cloth and always wear glass, 
wood or cocoanut-shell bangles. 

The male's dress consists of a dhoti, kurla or shirt, some- 
times an old coat and &feita tied in the up-country fashion. 
Berias wear white or brick-coloured dhotis according to taste. 
Both Sansis and Berias tie this garment in the ddband or 
knotted fashion, so known by reason of a peculiar knot which 
they bring to the front. Round the neck they wear a necklace 
of two or more strands composed of red moonga (coral) and 
gold beads and &jhooja which is a square pendant or charm, 
resting on the chest, of silver or gold according to circum- 
stances, and bearing an effigy of a man on horse-back intended 
to represent either Ramdevpir or some one of the wearer's 
progenitors. Sometimes &jhooja contains more effigies than 
one, but always of figures on horse-back. The j hoof a is an 
object of veneration. 

The woman's dress consists of a short ghdgra or petticoat, 
like that worn by Marwadi women with a border round the 
bottom, kurti, angia or bodice and an odni. Their ornaments 
are those of the fashion worn in Marwad, with the addition 
of a cheed (a pendant formed of a ' Kaldar ' rupee from the 
sides of which silver beads are hung as additional ornamenta- 
tion, the rupee being suspended round the neck by a necklace 
of glass beads and resting on the chest). Both Sansi and 
Beria women wear a lavang (clove) in the left nostril. The 
former wear a build q (pendant or drop) in the septum (fleshy 
division between the nostrils) of the nose ; Beria women do 
not. The women of both divisions are much given to the 
use of mis si (black tooth-powder). Both men and women 
wear shoes, usually with uppers all round. 

Sansis eat all sorts of flesh except that of the jackal and 
their encampments will usually be found to contain plenty of 
dried meat in bags and fat in earthen pots. Berias eschew 
beef and fish. Both classes are excessively fond of liquor, 
smoke tobacco, gdnja and bhang. Beria women and children 
smoke hookahs like men ; Sansi women will not. Women of 
both divisions are very fond of snuff. 

The Sansis' idea of morality is not very high though in 
this respect they are superior to Berias. 

Among the latter their deras or encampments are some- 
times named after some woman who is a prostitute, but among 
Sdnsis, usually after their ' sarganah.' 


The Sansis or Chharas met with in Gujerat are the dirtiest 
of the class. Their women as often as not wear sutnas or 
paijdmas and hurt as in lieu oift&ghdgra and kurti. They 
are known among Sansis as Popliyes. 

All Sansi and Beria women are, as a rule, tattooed on the 
nose, chin, temples, chest, wrist, arms and calves ; men on 
one or other of the shoulders (at the point) and on the wrist, 
posterior, in the form of a scorpion or dagger etc. Both 
sexes are branded on the chest and stomach during child- 

They are very quarrelsome and when in their cups often 
fall out and fight among themselves, the result being that a 
Sansi's head generally bears numerous scars. 

The most binding oath to a Sansi is that taken on ' Ganga ' 
or ' Kalka.' The former is taken by raising a pot containing 
water, salt, charcoal and jaw art grains and swearing to speak 
the truth ; the latter by pouring a little liquor on the ground 
out of a bottle while affirming. 

Sansis admit all castes into their own. 

A successful haul is usually followed by feasting and 

In cunning and daring, Sansis and Berias are equally 
dangerous. They are exceedingly stubborn and reticent under 
examination though easily opened by an ' informer ' and become 
talkative under the influence of liquor. 

Children questioned separately and searchingly by an 
experienced officer, will often supply information which their 
elders cannot be persuaded to disclose. 

Sansis and Berias have a peculiar nasal sing-song dialect 
of their own which is intelligible only 

Dialect and peculiarities f V _:__, T. ' i r TT- i- 

of speech. to Kanjars. It is a mongrel of Hindi 

or a ' Brij-bhasha ' and Gujerati. A 

noticeable peculiarity in the speech of a Beria as distinct from 
a Sansi, is the habitual use of the word ' bowdey ' (which has 
no meaning) interlarded in their tajk. All Sansis and Berias 
can speak Hindustani fluently. 

Slang and 3igns used. haVC an extensive Code of 

slang terms. The following are 
some : 









kharach, rihilla 



dhammal, khamaya 




dokhla, nissa 



chat an i 

khadbi jesar 

nija khadbar lc 


banki jesar 




kalloo, ginai 





rail de 

nodi de 


rhabard^ar roghio 

lothi redo 

rhossi le, binni le" 

teeppi, tuk 





nalsi, kowri 









chekdi liya 








implement of house-breaking. 


to loot. 



police officer. 


copper coins. 

mohur (sovereign). 

a Sansi. 

a Sansi woman. 

hide yourself. 

hide stolen article. 

stolen article. 

run away. 









melt it down. 

break it up. 


be on the alert. 

strike, beat. 

snatch off. 










a man (from another caste). 

a woman (from another caste). 








rhudai lo 

nhaja, daeli 




















netti, nhandook 

nodi redo 


rophia, ropiya 





khadartiyama raddi de 

kharach redia sar 


rescue him. 


break it open, 

bury in the ground, 
put the house-breaking imple- 
ment out of the way. 

At junctions and cross-roads Sansis indicate the route 
taken, by making small heaps of earth, say five or six, at 
intervals of a cubit along the road followed. When striking 
across country the track taken is marked by leaves strewn 
along the ground at intervals. 

Sansis and Berias profess to subsist by begging. Women 
go in for dancing, playing on the 
sdrangi, chikdra (string instruments), 
dholak (drum), etc. Some Berias 
make money by the prostitution of their girls. 

Perhaps it is superfluous to state that Sansis and Berias 
invariably adopt different names at 
different times and will never give a 
true account of their movements or 

Ostensible means of live- 


where they hail from. Sometimes they say Jodhpur, some- 
times Marwad, and so on. 

The men when unencumbered by families, dress them- 
selves up in superior clothing and pass themselves off as 
Thakores, Ahirs, Bhois, Rajputs, Kahars, Jats, Kunbis or 
Purbias and the disguise is usually excellent. 

When accompanied by their families, they generally pass 
themselves off as Gujerati Bhats (bards of the Jat tribe from 
Marwad or of the Kolis from Gujerat), Salats or as Nats (often 
Karnati, i.e., Carnatic) and beggars from Dheds and Bhangis. 
Occasionally they pretend to be dealers in cattle, grain etc. 

Sometimes according to circumstances, they pretend to 
be sweepers, Malis or Kachis, and when exploiting a railway 
they not infrequently dress up as women and travel in com- 
partments reserved for females. 

During the commsision of an offence by day, they muffle 
their faces to conceal their features. 

Highway dacoity and cart robbery are their specialities. 
They sometimes also indulge in house 

Crime to which addicted. . J . . . . .. 

dacoity. 1 hey are also addicted to 

house breaking, tent thieving, looting encampments and iso- 
lated huts, cattle and sheep lifting (by day or by night), theft 
of all sorts including standing crops and other agricultural 

The railways are not immune from their depredations, for 
they are reported to be given to thieving from passengers and 
looting goods trains. 

The women and children are habitual thieves and pilferers. 

Beria women are more criminal than their sisters of the 
Sansi variety. They commit all sorts- of thefts and break 
open the locks of unoccupied houses by day and steal what- 
ever they can lay hands on inside. 


Sansis never admit outsiders to their confidence nor do 
they employ outsiders to scout for 

Methods employed in com- ,1 T r *. Ui 11 

mitting crime, and distinguish- them. Intormation is obtained by one 
ing characteristics likely to or two c l eve r members of the gang, 

afford a clue. . . , 11 j i 

which usually does not exceed twenty 

in number. Their spies prowl about the stages where travellers 
halt and ascertain if any wedding or other party likely to 
prove lucrative prey is on a journey ; if so, further particulars, 


such as the time of starting, the road to be taken, the 
strength of the party, and so on, are carefully elicited. 
Laying their plans accordingly the gang starts ahead and 
takes up a good position in a suitable locality timing to deliver 
their attack after dusk and before day-break, or even during 
day-light if the country is favourable. On the approach 
of their quarry, the gang rushes out of hiding and delivers 
the attack. 

Information regarding houses to be dacoited is obtained 
in a similar manner. A member of the gang loiters about 
near a tank, well or ghat and observing a woman with valu- 
able jewellery on her person follows her to her house, prospects 
it and communicates the result of his enquiries to his friends. 
A Sansi is adept at gauging, from the general appearance of 
the house, the probable wealth of the inmates. 

Primed with the necessary information and having arranged 
preliminaries, they make for the dwelling decided on. About 
a mile or so from the scene of the proposed crime, perhaps 
near a tree, well or in some broken ground, the gang call a 
halt, deposit their superfluous clothing and other articles and 
having made final preparations for the raid, they make direct 
for the village or the scene of offence. The attack opens 
with the hurling of stones. Individual members take up 
positions in conformity with the leader's instructions. In road 
dacoities, two men guard the approaches from both directions, 
while the main body armed with sticks, often freshly cut, slings, 
stones, knives, and hatchets, deliver the attack. While this 
is going on, should it be necessary to address one another by 
way of encouragement or otherwise, Hindustani words with 
a ' Purbhia ' accent are used. In house raids, streets and 
lanes are specially guarded. The leader and the bulk of the 
gang carry out the actual attack. Doors are forced open 
with hatchets. Women are first searched and divested of 
their ornaments. Sansis do not, as a rule, outrage females. 
Male occupants are forced to disclose where the valuables 
are hidden. Boxes and other receptacles are broken open 
and rifled. Any resistance on the part of the party attacked 
is overcome by force, though unnecessary violence is avoided 
unless in a tight place when Sansis and Berias will not hesitate 
to proceed to extremes, even to homicide. An hour or so may 
elapse before the gang makes off with the booty acquired. 
A short halt is called at the place where their clothes and 
other articles were left and thereafter the retreat is resumed 
with all speed. Stolen property is consigned to the care of 


one or two members of the gang ; it is concealed under- 
ground near every halting place and unearthed when the 
march is continued. Distribution of the spoil is put off till the 
dera has been reached and the property can be turned into 
cash. The ' naik ' is responsible for its safe custody and 
disposal. Before receiving their respective shares, each 
member of the gang has to swear on ' Ganga ' or ' Kalka ' 
that he has not retained any of the ' loot.' 

Sansis are often reckless in respect to dacoity and will 
sometimes bring one off even during day-light in a place of 
public resort and gathering such as fair, dharamsdld, railway 
passenger shed and the like. 


This is not so favourite a form of crime with the class as 
highway dacoity. Information is obtained and houses and 
their surroundings are very carefully reconnoitred in the 
manner already described with a view to deciding on the 
place where entrance is to be effected, securing a line of 
retreat etc. before the burglary is embarked on. In common 
with other criminals, Sansis operate on the very dark nights 
only. The house is reached quietly after midnight, the adjoin- 
ing lanes and approaches are picketted to guard against 
surprise while the midnight intruder is at work. Entry is 
effected either by breaking through a window or making a 
hole in the wall, either in the ' bagli ' or ' rumali ' fashion, with 
an implement known among them as a khardch (a jemmy 
about a foot long with a knob, the latter sometimes covered 
with leather, the business end flattened out and steel-tipped), 
or with a butcher's knife, spear-head or any large nail. The 
thieves are usually armed with lathis, stones and slings. One 
man (specially selected on account of his dexterity) usually 
enters the house ; before stepping through the hole, the well 
known precaution of intruding a stick round the end of which 
a cloth is wrapped, is resorted to in order to ascertain whether 
the inmates are on the alert. A cloth is held across the hole 
of ingress lest the cold air should disturb a slumberer and the 
star-light attract the attention of any of the inmates. One of 
the gang standing outside keeps up a flicking with his finger 
against the wall to indicate to his confederate inside that all is 
well and also to keep the latter informed of the line of retreat 
should he lose his bearings. The man who enters the build- 
ing carries, in a small tin, a rag rolled into a wick and oiled 


or saturated with ghi, also some phosphorous matches. He 
is usually armed with a knife (table variety or bladed). On 
entering the house he lights his taper and takes stock of the 
position of sleepers, the contents of the room and the situation 
of other apartments. He then extinguishes the light and 
creeps forward in a half erect posture to satisfy himself that 
the slumberers are sound asleep. He then hands small re- 
ceptacles out to his comrades and breaks open boxes too 
heavy to lift, quickly passing out their contents. Having 
ransacked the house he emerges by the opening or door he 
entered by. If perchance heavy receptacles have to be 
passed out, one or two of the gang from outside are requisi- 
tioned to assist. Before advancing into an inner room the 
taper is again lighted, the room is inspected and the light put 
out. They lift everything they can lay their hands on, cash, 
jewellery, clothes, utensils and even eatables, if the dera 
is close by, but if far off only the two first mentioned. They 
are very clever at removing ornaments from the persons of 
sleeping females without disturbing them. If disappointed in 
the spoils obtained, they throw discretion to the winds and 
tear off ornaments difficult to detach and make a bolt for it. 
Those on the watch outside never desert their comrades inside 
and will show fight rather than allow the latter to be caught 
inside the house. Should people sleeping in the house be 
disturbed and raise an alarm, the intruders make off and do 
not use violence unless molested. A shroud is believed by 
Sdnsis and Berias to possess a certain mystic power. There- 
fore some gangs use one, pilfered from a burning ghat, when 
committing house-breaking to wave over sleeping forms in a 
house, in the belief that this action will prevent slumberers 
being disturbed while the burglar is at work. 

Sheep and Cattle Lifting. 

Sheep and cattle -are stolen at travellers' halting stages, 
from cattle-sheds, sheep-pens, and in the open while grazing. 
A refractory animal in a shed is approached under cover of a 
quiet one, a rope is thrown round its horns and it is then 
driven off. The theft of valuable though fractious animals 
thus often excites surprise in the neighbourhood. 

Sheep in a pen are first felt over and fat ones selected. 
Whether the sheep are in sheds or in pens in the open, no 
special precautions are adopted in approaching them. 


When working on railways their methods are as follow 
From goods trains, bags are lifted off open trucks either by 
men boarding the trains when going slow and throwing off the 
bags, or by dragging the bags by means of grappling irons or 
long sticks tipped with iron hooks or catches. 

Thefts from passenger trains are committed at night, 
stolen property being thrown out of the window to be picked 
up afterwards ; or an ornament is snatched from the person 
of a woman sitting near the window, or a bundle temptingly 
placed within easy reach from outside is lifted as the train 

When dealing with a gang of Sansis or Berias it goes 
without saying that it is desirable to separate individuals from 
one another as soon as possible before interrogating them and 
to keep them apart so as to prevent their making signs to one 

The able-bodied men are rarely to be found in the dera 
during the day-time ; they usually lie low in some handy 
ravine or jungle not far off. 

Berias and Sansis associate together for purposes of 

Police search of Beria and Sansi encampments should be 
carried out in force as the women, particularly, are very bois- 
terous, embarrass the officers by divesting themselves of their 
clothes, pulling at the officer's clothes, catching up children 
and threatening to brain them and, in the case of Beria women, 
micturating and splashing the police with urine. If out- 
numbered the police are likely to be assaulted by the men 
and turned out of the encampment. 

In jurisdictions where the Arms Act is not in force, Sansis 

and Berias carry, in addition to other 

stock-in-trade, instruments we apons of offence, swords and fire- 

and weapons employed in com- f , _, 

mitting crime. arms for criminal purposes. Else- 

where, lathis, slings, stones, sticks, 

knives and hatchets are their usual armament during the com- 
mission of crimes of violence. The burglar's paraphernalia 
consist of the khardch described above, a knife, an old 
spear-head, or a large iron spike or the iron peg used for 
tethering cattle, matches, the taper mentioned above, sticks, 
stones and slings. 


Stolen property is not, as a rule, distributed among the 

members of the gang till it is con- 

>s and means of conceal- verted into cash. Pending disposal, 

jng and disposing of stolen pro- . . , . , ,. l , .' 

perty. it is buried some distance from their 

dera or encampment near an ant-heap 

or some tree in the bank of a nullah and similar places. If 
it is buried in the encampment, the favourite places are under 
the fire-place, near the pegs to which cattle are tethered, 
and in the case of Sansis under the stands on which they 
stack their belongings ; in the case of Berias under their beds. 

Sometimes stolen jewellery and cash are sewn up in quilts 
and pack-saddles and pads or are concealed in earthen pots, 
vessels or sacks containing tainted, dried fat and meat where 
inquisitive Hindu police officers are not likely to be eager to 
make any search. When moving camp their receptacles are 
carried on the backs of bullocks or ponies and it is then that 
a search is likely to prove fruitful. 

Articles of special value that have been concealed under- 
ground near the encampment are, as a rule, removed by two or 
three of the gang (who return for the purpose at night) to the 
next halting place where they are again consigned to the 

Their ' receivers ' are mostly among goldsmiths, Banias, 
liquor-vendors, shroffs, sometimes even patils and pativdris. 

Stolen cattle are killed and eaten or sold at distant mar- 
kets ; if identification is not feared, they are sometimes used 
as pack-animals. 

Lifted goats and sheep are immediately slain and con- 

Sansi and Beria women should always be thoroughly 
searched by female searchers, especially in the natural pas- 
sages, for small articles of value and cash. 

The ghdgras of women also require thorough investigation 
as the voluminous folds usually conceal a capacious pocket 
used for hiding stolen property. 

Before abandoning the search of a Beria encampment it 
will always be as well to unrope cots and beds and carefully 
examine the wood-work for hollows likely to contain dishon- 
estly acquired property. 

When the police are searching a dera it will probably 
repay the trouble if women or children sent off on apparently 


innocent errands, such as to fetch water etc., are quietly 
followed up, caught and searched, because under such 
pretences Sansis and Berias make away, under the noses of 
the police so to say, with incriminating articles or property. 
Lastly, it will always be advisable to plough up the site of a 
Sansi or a Beria encampment before search is relinquished. 

Individual members of a gang will sometimes leave a 
portion of the proceeds of their crimes buried, as convenient 
at different places in the country traversed by them, but never, 
it is alleged, even after the lapse of years, do they make 
a mistake in returning to the exact spot to recover their ill- 
gotten gains. 

Every male member of a gang is entitled to a share in all 
' loot/ no matter whether he has taken an active part in the 
crime or not. Widows and wives of men in jail receive half 



Langoti Pardees 

The following note on Langoti Pardees by Mr. J. T. B. D. 
Sevvell, District Superintendent of Police, Amraoti, is of 
general interest. Chapters II and III of Gunthorpe's " Notes 
on Criminal Tribes " should be read with this ; as though many 
of the customs etc. referred to therein have changed, still it 
will be easier to trace the details from a comparison of the two 
compilations, the former of which was written about thirty 
years ago. 

1. Pardees are frequently classed with Takenkars as if 
they were much the same kind of people : they may have been 
originally, but are now as distinct as possible. Pardees are 
Bowries, Takenkars are Wagris. It is not proposed to enter 
upon an ethnological discussion, but merely to classify these 
people from a police point of view. 

The Pardees have long hair. The Takenkars only wear 
the shendi like other Hindus. The former do not wash after 
easing themselves, but use a stone or grass, etc., if anything, 
though it is alleged that mixing with Kunbis and others they 
are now taking to healthier customs. 

Pardees invariably wear the langoti hence their name. 
Takenkars dress like other Hindus. 

2. Langoti Pardees must never be confused with Phas 
Pardees or Cheetawallas, as beyond the fact that they origi- 
nally came from the same source, they are quite distinct. 

Phas Pardees, in spite of the opinions of European sports- 
men not unwilling to see them ' moved on,' do not commit 
crime, and are quite harmless. 

3. The Pardees (and unless specially mentioned to the 
contrary, the Langoti Pardees are always meant) are sub- 
divided into (i) Chowan, (2) Pohar and (3) Salonki. As a 
rule they marry girls from another class, thus a Chowan would 
marry a Pohar girl, and so on. Chowans worship ' Amba,' 
Powars worship ' Mari Mata,' and Salonkis ' Kali.' All their 
deities are called ' Bowani ' and, as Gunthorpe says, they are 
very religious. 


4. It is said that Chowan females will not ride in a cart or 
drink liquor. Powar women may not ride in a cart, but may 
drink liquor : and they will not eat anything which lives in 
water. Salonki women only draw the line at wearing red 

5. Though Pardees talk Marathi and Urdu fluently, their 
original language is Gujerati and their talk is said to resemble 
that of men newly arrived from Gujerat. 

6. Men of Kunbi, Mali, Teli and other superior castes 
may be accepted as Pardees, but the conversion of Muham- 
madans, Dhobis, Mahars, Mangs, etc., is prohibited. 

7. It will be seen that Gunthorpe says women may not 
wear silver anklets : my-information is that wearing of silver 
1 below the waist ' is the forbidden rule. I am told it is only 
the Salonki women who may not wear red. No Pardee 
woman may hang her sari on a wall or peg, but it must always 
be kept on the ground : a worn sari being impure must not be 
allowed on the same level as Bhowani. 

8. Pardees always feed with their women and not before, 
as is the custom with other people. This is due to a woman 
having in olden times poisoned her husband and children. 

9. The pipal tree is held specially sacred. There is a 
legend about this tree which connects with the custom of 
refraining from the use of water after answering a call of 
nature : 

" A Pardee went on a journey and being fatigued lay down and 
slept under a pipal tree which grew beside a river. On waking up 
he went and eased himself, going to the river to wash. By accident 
he scooped up a pipal leaf in the water he used, and therefrom 
resulted a grievous sore at his anus from which he suffered much 
torment and was like to die. Then he had a vision : the Devi 
appeared to him and told him his troubles arose from the disrespect 
he had shown the pipal tree. The man confessed his crime, did 
penance before the panchayat and was instantly cured of his sore. 
Since then, however, water has been discarded for that particular 

10. As Gunthorpe says, " the new generation have taken 
to burglary " and that dacoity used to be their occupation. This 
is certainly interesting as showing that it is not only " ladies' 
fashions " which repeat themselves. In the course of conver- 
sation with an informer of about 35 years of age (evidently 
one of Gunthorpe's ' new generation '), he told me distinctly that 
whereas all his class had habitually committed burglary they 



had to a certain extent given this up and taken to dacoity. 
The reason being that the police got horribly inquisitive in the 
matter of burglaries, every burglary (probably rightly so) being 
attributed to Pardees : so that since 1896, the first famine 
year, his class had largely gone in for dacoity in place of 
burglary : they found it more social and easier. He didn't 
remember his folk going in for dacoity in the olden days, but 
they may have. 

11. Pardees do not, as a rule, injure the people they 
attack : if all goes well and complainants give no trouble, then 
they do not hurt them, but they are quite ready and, if people 
resist, they will not hesitate to beat them. Ordinarily when, 
committing dacoity they are armed with sticks and stones 

1 2. In committing burglary they do not take any pride in 
the hole they make, nor have they any particular mode of 
breaking through from which the work could be recognised as 

They sometimes will dig nearly through a wall, leaving only 
a thin partition against which the leader will carefully listen 
before finally bursting through. Then when a hole is made 
big enough to get through, the leader strikes a match which he 
holds between finger and thumb, with his fingers stretched out 
so as to form a shade, and holding this in front of him so that 
his features are shielded, he has a good survey of the room 
before entering. 

13. Pardees when about to leave their village for any pur- 
pose get a * pass ' from the pdtil: this is called taking 
dakhla and is an informal business altogether, which was no 
doubt introduced by some zealous police officer. The system 
has in a way defeated its own object, and yet somehow with 
the swing of the pendulum it may almost be said to have 
effected it in a way not anticipated. 

The dakhla was supposed not to be given except for 
legitimate purposes : consequently a Pardee absent from his 
village produced his dakhla as proof he was occupied in- 
nocently : the pdtil &\so corroborated. Hence the abuse of the 
system. It has, however, been found that a Pardee never 
bothers about getting dakhla unless he means crime. Hence 
if a pass has been taken out it may be believed without doubt 
that the Pardee has left his village to commit crime. Experi- 
ence shows that the pdtil in almost every instance is aware of 
the real motive for which the pass is taken out. 


14. Without wishing to be unfair to the village officer, I 
record it as my fixed belief (founded on information given me 
by many police officers of long service and exceptional expe- 
rience and on statements made to me by Pardees them- 
selves, and on statements by other responsible persons, and 
from my observation in cases that have come before me) that 
where Pardees live, there they live chiefly by crime, and that 
committed with the knowledge of the village pdtil, usually a 
1 receiver ' of stolen property : where there is more than one 
pdtil then one at least of the pa tils is a ' receiver.' 

15. It is quite impossible to bring their guilt home to these 
' respectable ' aiders and abettors, because in every village 
there are either ' factions ' or 'no factions ' and in the 
former case the evidence to be obtatined is too tainted, while 
in the latter case no evidence at all will be got. The only way 
to cure the evil is through the Revenue authorities. That the 
Pardee is a habitual criminal is undeniable : he does not 
labour, he can't and won't ; his hands are as soft as any 
clerk's, and prove he does no manual labour in the fields, 
which is what he professes to do. Village pdtils must be led 
to understand that until it is established that Pardees have 
taken to honest modes of living their presence in a village will 
tend to harm a pdtiVs reputation. 

1 6. Pardees occasionally convene what are called 
' deokarias.' These are meetings at which ' ways and 
means ' are discussed as well as caste disputes settled, and 
results of past offences related. Much food is eaten and liquor 
drunk. At these ' deokarias ' there is no fixed ritual. Some- 
times a buffalo is offered up, and as the flesh cannot be eaten 
by them or thrown away, it is given to a lower class of the 
Bowri tribe called Hadoti, which lives in Hyderabad, Deccan 
territory, some of whom are sent for. 

1 7. The penalty for nearly every offence is a fine of so 
much liquor : that resulting from a man's sin is drunk by the 
men and that paid up by the women is drunk by the women. 

The left ear of both men and women guilty of adultery is 
cut with a razor. A Pardee guilty of sexual intercourse with 
a prostitute is punished as if he had committed adultery. 
Pardee females are said to be virtuous. I have not had this 
verified, but am assured it is so. 

1 8. At the ' deokaria ' a large fry-pan called karai is 
brought in and glii and sugar cooked. Sweetmeats are taken 


out of the boiling oil by any Pardee who is pious or who is 
' seized by the goddess ' ; he uses his hand instead of a spoon 
or other implement. To be able to do so is synonymous with 
virtue or integrity. An ear-cut Pardee is not allowed near the 
karai nor may his shadow fall over it. 

19. Like all such people Pardees have their ' ordeals ' and 
'omens.' One test is as follows : An accused person having 
taken oath is told to take out a rupee and a knife from a vessel 
of water placed within a space marked off with a circle 
called a kund. He delivers these to the panch. There is no 
direct manifestation, but if the man be guilty, he will be afraid 
to touch the knife as his conscience tells him the goddess will 
punish him if he does. 

20. Another test is for the accused to take a knife and 
going into water up to his chest or neck to there take oath of 
the goddess. 

21. Yet another is for two men to stand within circles 
drawn in the sand of a river-bank and about seven bamboos 
distance from one another. Accused stands near one of them 
while a friend goes into the water. Accused touches one 
man and runs to the other, touches him and returns. When 
accused touches the first man the friend dives under water, and 
if he can remain below the surface till accused finishes his run, 
the latter is judged as innocent, but if not, then he is guilty ; 
accused is then expected to vomit blood and die, a not 
unnatural sequence if not in good training. 

22. There is the red hot axe-head ordeal which is, I 
believe, not peculiar to Pardees, but I give it as mentioned. 
An. axe-head is made red hot and the accused having twenty- 
one leaves (one source gives nine leaves) of the pipal tree on his 
hand the axe-head is laid thereon and he has to walk ten paces 
(one source says nine). If he can do so, well and good. 

23. The following omens are believed to be unfavour- 
able : 

(1) meeting an empty water chatty ; 

(2) a dog flapping its ears ; 

(3) the bellowing of cows though that of bulls is 


(4) mewing of a cat ; 

(5) howling of a jackal ; 

(6) sneezing ; 

266 \1TKNDIX I. 

(7) a snake passing from left to right though if from 
right to left is good. 

24. Pardees when arrested are very ready at bribing tin- 
police in the first place, and if not successful here, then they 
have been said to bribe Magistrates ; at least they boast of 
having done so, though, of course, this cannot be true. They 
say they approach the police through the village officers, and 
the Magistrate through his reader. 

25. Their ' informant ' is known as ' heria ' and this man, 
who is usually a ' respectable' man of some position, always 
gets his share. 

The ' receiver ' is called a ' jan ' ; thus Tookia's ' receiver ' 
is always known and spoken of as Tookia's ' jan.' 

It occasionally happens that one man combines the two 

26. The following technical terms are used : 

dacoity . . . barbarra. 

theft ... ishali. 

burglary ... joopda. 

petty grain theft ... koomai. 

petty robberies and dacoities . . . kooto. 

house-breaking implement ... kutturna (as on page 15, Gun- 

thorpe's notes). 

policeman ... kali kiitri (black bitch), 

stolen property ... gobur (cow-dung). 

27. As a rule they don't divide the property on or near 
scene of crime, but bring it home and divide there. Generally 
it is carried by one of the gang well behind the rest so as to 
enable it to be hidden if the party is challenged. This trick 
is common to the Dowries from the north. 

28. I have noticed a tendency for Pardees to reside in 
villages on the borders of station ranges, especially ranges on 
the borders of taluqs and districts. They avoid giving trouble 
in the range where they reside and hence obtain considerable 
immunity from supervision. This should not be held to the 
discredit of the local police officer for he has enough to do 
to look after men who commit crime in his own range : he 
can't possibly deal with men who go outside until he is aware 
of their methods. Hitherto with the village officer and his 
' pass ' to shield the absent Pardee it would be hard luck on 
a station-house officer to call him to account for offences 
committed by his Pardees outside. 


29. These notes are naturally very incomplete, as what 
account of the criminal classes would not be. But I have 
gathered together as much of what I thought might be inter- 
esting, as I could and hope it may be of some use to my 
brother officers. 

I must record my thanks to Inspectors Abdulla Khan and 
W. Stacey for much valuable aid in compiling the same. 


The following is a note by the Inspector-General of Police, 
Panjab, on the Criminal Tribes of Harnis, and is reproduced 
from the Supplement to the Central Provinces Police Gazette 
dated 3rd October 1906. 

A short description of the Criminal Tribes of Harnis or 
Harnees in the matter of their origin, mode 
of life, religion, etc. 

Some centuries ago Mahmud Ghaznavi, on one of his 
invasions of India, was accompanied by a body of Pathdns, 
residents of Ghanur, a village near Kabul, under their chieftain 
Babr Khan. Mahmud Ghaznavi gave them the village of 
Mansuri, near Delhi, to settle in and here they remained for 
several years. They are next heard of in Bhutnair in Bikanir 
State, where they founded the town of Harnian Khaira. They 
intermarried with the Hindu Rajputs of the neighbourhood, 
and this is probably the reason why the present day Harni 
sometimes says that his ancestors, before becoming followers 
of Islam, were Rajput Chhatris. This is confirmed by the 
names of the eleven goths or clans (Tur, Chuhan, Lathik, 
Gujjar, Malak, Barang, Sanghaira, Leer, Ladar, Nandika, 
Powar), some of which are Hindu and the remainder Muham- 

In the year 1783 A.D. (Sambat 1840) a number of men of 
this tribe, if we may call it so, were forced by the severe famine 
then prevailing to emigrate. Numbers of them crossed the 
Ganges and settled in the United Provinces, where their 
descendants are known as Hairees and Banjaras. Another 
branch of this tribe is the ' Chirrimars ' of the Sialkot District. 

The "remainder came into the Panjab and took service 
under a certain Rai Kallah, a powerful chieftain, who held 
under his sway the country in the neighbourhood of the large 
towns of Raikot and Jagraon, in the Ludhiana District. These 
men were subsequently joined by their families and relations 
and were of the greatest assistance to their liege-lord, Rai 
Kallah, who employed them not only as shikaris or huntsmen, 
but also as mercenary free-booters and the latter, by making 
constant plundering raids on the lands held by Rai Kalian's 

HARNIS. 269 

enemies, caused the possessions of the latter to be subject to a 
ceaseless series of harassment and rapine. 

The indefatigable exertions of this band of freebooting 
mercenaries and their conspicuous and never-failing successes 
in this method of predatory warfare gained them the name of 
Harnis or Harnees. This name is derived from either the 
Sanskrit word harm (a thief) or from the two words har and 
na/nn, i. e., the never-failing or invincible. Some of the 
Harnis wrongly state that their name is derived from harni 
(a doe) and was given them by Rai Kallah on account of the 
activity of one of their number, who ran down and caught a 
wounded doe. 

On the death of Rai Kallah, these Harnis, taking advantage 
of the disturbed condition of the neighbourhood, made them- 
selves masters of the five villages of Chimna, Malak, Panheeni, 
Sangatpura and Leelan in the Jagraon ilaqa. They continued 
their predatory habits and carried them to such extremes that 
in 1818 A. D. (Sambat 1875) General Sir David Ochterlony 
brought their conduct to the notice of Maharajah Ranjit 
Singh, who ordered the Raja of Kapurthala, in whose terri- 
tories these Harni villages lay, to banish them. 

Nothing is known of this tribe from then till 1847 A - D - 
(Sambat 1904), but it is probable that, in this interval, a 
number went away and settled at Burj Lamra, a village near 
Ludhiana, while others went and established themselves in 
parts of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jultundur, Kapurthala and 
Faridkote, where they are still found to some extent. 

In 1847 A - D - tms tr ^ e was permitted by a Mr. Kewell 
(? Campbell), a British Settlement Officer, to establish them- 
selves in the villages of Bir, Tappar and Kiri, in the jurisdiction 
of Jagraon police station, Ludhiana District. 

In the adjacent village of Bodalwala, some Harnis, who 
had for many years been in the service of the Rajas of 
Kapurthala, had" taken up their residence after payment of a 
large sum of money, while the Harnis of the neighbouring 
village of Meerpur were located in it about the year 1850 A. D. 
by Moulvi Rajab Ali of Jagraon. In 1873 small numbers of 
Harnis were found in some twenty-nine other villages in 
Ludhiana District. The total number of Harnis in Ludhiana 
District at that time was 463 men, 510 women and 1,075 
children. The total amount of land in their possession 
was only 1,725 bighas (owned by 185 individuals) and the 

270 APPF.NOIX ii. 

inadequacy of it to support them drove the Harnis to commit- 
ting burglaries and dakaitis which extended over half the 
Panjab and many of the Native States adjoining it. In spite 
of the faulty identification of criminals of that period, the 
police registers showed that 202 Harnis had been convicted 
of one or more burglaries or other offence against property. 

It is as well to discuss the modus operandi then in vogue 
among them for committing crime before the Criminal Tribes 
Act was put in force among them. 

Then, as now, the Harni never committed any offences 
locally, beyond the theft of grain or standing crops or the 
occasional theft of a stray goat or cow, which were almost 
immediately killed and consumed. 

They invariably journeyed to other districts for their offences 
and, to prevent local hindrance or obstruction, paid a fixed 
poll-tax, for each individual going on thieving expeditions, to 
their own headmen, a chaukidar, as well as to the local 

It is estimated that, at that time, 125 to 150 persons 
would sally forth every month for the purpose of committing 
crime and acquiring plunder. If the local police attempted to 
interfere with these expeditions, the Harnis would retort by 
plundering in their jurisdiction and the same local terrorism 
was exercised over headmen, neighbours, etc., by destroying 
the crops of all those who opposed or gave evidence against 

Disguised as beggars (fakirs), quacks (hakims), travel- 
ling merchants or potters, they would set out in gangs of 
ten or twelve able-bodied men, generally accompanied by one or 
two very feeble old men and a couple of boys. They were 
invariably accompanied by a ( khumar ' or potter and a few 
mules or donkeys, whenever they were passing themselves 
off as grain merchants ; on occasion they took a few sheep 
or goats along with them and represented themselves to be 
butchers or cattle dealers. 

Every party had a burglarious implement (generally a 
sabbal or long iron nail), a box of lucifer matches, a sickle and 
a sharp pocket-knife. Having encamped, the young men 
would visit neighbouring villages and mark out the most 
convenient places for their purpose. 

In the evening, having reassembled, discussed the results 
of their inquiries and appointed a fresh rendezvous, the old 



men and boys would proceed to the latter, while the remainder 
of the gang broke up into parties of four. Each party would 
then set off to the place it was determined to rob. With the 
sickle four stout sticks would be cut for weapons in the event 
of their being surprised and pursued. One of the party was left 
outside the village in charge of the shoes and superfluous 
clothes of the party and the remainder entered the village. 

One man hid himself in a lane, adjoining the scene of the 
proposed burglary, to keep a watch for the local watchman or 
any stray passer-by, a second would quickly dig a hole in the 
roof or wall of the house and enter, leaving the third at the 
mouth of the aperture to receive the stolen property passed 
out to him. 

The lucifer matches would now be used to guide the 
burglar to any property worth appropriating, while the sharp 
pocket-knife was brought into play in cutting open bags or 
leather boxes or the strings securing the ends of necklaces 
worn by sleeping women and children. 

Having completed their work, these three men would rejoin 
the fourth outside the village, and, proceeding for some dis- 
tance over turfy or hard ground, would then put on their shoes 
and proceed to their rendezvous. 

Their plunder and implements of burglary would be care- 
fully buried in some adjoining sand-hill or underneath the roots 
of a tree until their next march. 

Day by day the process was repeated until the approach of 
moon-light nights. All valuable property, such as money, 
jewellery, etc., would then be made over to one man who 
would proceed home alone by a separate route, while the 
remainder would stuff all stolen clothing, etc., into large sacks, 
filling up the mouths of the latter with cotton or hemp. They 
then placed these sacks on their animals and returned home 
by the ordinary route, the old men and boys riding on the 
animals, while the remainder of the gang walked in twos or 
threes at some distance in front or behind to guard against 
any sudden attack. At ferries especially, and also at other 
places, where they were likely to be suspected, they, if 
possible, mounted lepers on their animals, and finally cross- 
ing the Sutlej, principally at the ferries of Tihara, Sidhwan, 
Pandari, where the boatmen were in their pay, they made 
their way to their villages. 

The property would be equally divided between the 
members of the gang (except that the burglar, or individual 


who entered the burgled houses, received a double share in 
consideration of the additional risk of capture, incurred by 
him) and sold to neighbouring zanrindars or mahajnns, the 
' purchaser ' inspecting the stolen property in the Harnee 
villages and the property being subsequently taken to his 
house by Harni women and children. Such was the modus 
operandi of the Harnees of this district (with the exception of 
the Gownimar Harnis who live in the village of Kiri and 
whose modus operand* will be described hereafter) previous 
to the year 1873, in which the provisions of the Criminal 
Tribes Act (XXVII of 1871) were put into force and the 
excursions of the Harni gangs of burglars checked. The 
enforcement of this Act, the extensive introduction of railways 
and the greater facility gained therefrom by the police of differ- 
ent districts in co-operating with one another, and lastly the 
arrest and conviction of a great number of Harnis (who had been 
concerned in a vast number of cases throughout the Panjab 
and its adjoining Native States), by Mr. J. P. Warburton, 
then District Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana, have caused 
the Harnees to seek more distant fields for their attention. 

The present modus operandi of the Harnis will now be 
discussed. In the village of Kiri in this district, as well as in 
one village near Kartarpur in the Jullundur District and in 
one or two villages in Hoshiarpur District, resides a branch or 
clan of the Harnis known as ' Gownimars.' The name is 
derived probably from gooni (a theft) and marna (to commit), 
hence theft committers or thieves (practically the same 
meaning as that of Harni). 

This clan, now as heretofore, commit practically only one 
class of offence, their women, while young and comely, take 
up their residence in the houses of the rich as servants, 
mistresses or wives. After some time they either seize a con- 
venient opportunity to make over all articles of jewellery or 
other valuables, that they can conveniently seize, to some one 
of their male relatives who has visited the house, generally in 
the guise of a religious mendicant or fakir, or else they take 
all the valuables they can and vanish, leaving behind them as 
souvenir any children they may have borne to their masters 
or husbands. Sometimes these Gownimars will enter in 
disguise houses, in which marriage or other ceremonies are 
taking place, and steal anything they can. 

The remainder of the Harnis now commit only the follow- 
ing offences, of which I shall point out any facts of interest. 


2 73 

No Harni will commit in his own ilaqa (i.e., the limit of the 
jurisdiction of his police station) any offence other than 
perhaps the theft of standing crops or of a stray goat or cow. 

If a Harni, bent on plunder, cannot obtain the co-operation 
of other Harnis he will join local bad characters or members 
of other criminal tribes, chiefly Sansis, and commit burglaries 
with them. A Harni will seldom or never commit any 
offence, other than petty thefts, single-handed. The main 
characteristic of their burglaries is the very small hole by 
which they make their way through the roof or wall of the 
house burgled. These holes are generally very neatly made 
and are made with a sabbal or long iron nail, with or without 
a wooden handle ; when not in use, a loop of string having 
been affixed to the handle of the sabbal, the arm, as far as 
the shoulder, is passed through the loop, leaving the sabbal 
to hang down and escape notice between the arm and the side. 
Their usual offence is burglary (attended by dakaiti or violence 
if surprised or opposed) and in many cases of burglaries com- 
mitted by them, necklaces and other ornaments are removed 
or wrenched from off the bodies of sleeping women and 
children. When wandering about India in disguise, they either 
join local bad characters in burglaries or other offences or else 
commit petty thefts single-handed. 

The following are their principal venues : 

(1) The Panjab, south and east of the districts of Rawal- 
pindi and Jhelum (though they have been arrested as far 
west as Multan), and its adjoining Native States, but chiefly 
the districts of Hoshiarpur and Ambala, and the Native 
States of Patiala and Faridkote. 

(2) Burma. 

(3) The Dekkan. A small number are now said to be 
present at village Parbani, police station Parbani, in Hyder- 

(4) Bombay Presidency. Some are said to be living in 
Nasak in Nasik District. 

(5) Guzerat. A number have been and now are living in 
Surat, where they visit the shrine (dargah or khandah) of 
Timur Shah, the pir or saint of the Banwa or Benawa 

(6) The Central Provinces and Nagpur. 

(7) Bombay City. 
B 514-18 


They visit tho^e places in the following roles : 
A Jugglers and acrobats. 
B Fakuirs. 

C Gurzmars or Gurgmars. 
D Mirasi or singers and players. 
E Potters. 

F Banjaras or Baisatis or grain merchants. 
G. Husbandmen. 

As A, they will nearly invariably describe themselves as 
Ranjars or Muhammadan Rajputs. 

As B and C, they will state that they are Ranjars 
(Rajput Muhammadans) or Qadria Faquirs, Benawa or 
Banwa Fakirs, or Gurzmar Fakirs. If asked their Shijra or 
Fakir genealogy they will trace it back to the prophet Ali, and 
state (in many instances) that their pir or saint is Timur 
Shah of Surat. 

As D, they will pass themselves off as Mirasis or 

As F and G, they will make out they are Rains or Arains. 

Note i. In Bombay City they are always found as Fakuirs. 

Note 2. They are never seen in any but Muhammadan disguises 
and are said to be able by a special method of applying a compound 
containing cocoanut oil to make the hair on their heads and faces 
grow rapidly. 

Note 3. In Bombay, they nearly always prostitute their women- 
folk and beg themselves and make a large income by both liveli- 
hoods, as paid-off native sailors and lascars will spend their arrears 
of pay on the wife, while the husband will trade on the suscepti- 
bilities of the generous and reap a rich harvest. 

Note 4 When going to Bombay they go by the narrow gauge 
railway via Bandikui, at which place there is a rich Muhammadan 
butcher, who sends them, in their guise of Fakuirs, free of charge to 
Bombay in the trains which convey his animals there weekly. 

Note 5. Tne inhabitants of Bodalwala and Tappar generally go 
to Nagpur and the Dekkan, those of Bir and Mirpur to Bombay and 
Burma, while the inhabitants of Kiri seldom go beyond the Panjub. 

Note 6. As Fakirs they generally wear an 'alfi ' or long robe of 
thick cloth or blanketting. 

Note 7. In nearly every case they will say their ancestors were 
Rajputs, and in this district, the Harni will often describe himself 
Rajput alias Harni or Rajput urf Harni. 

HARMS. 275 

If questioned they will invariably state they are residents 
of districts beyond or adjoining the Sutlej, such as Jullundur 
and Ferozepore, or else a Native State such as Patiala or 
Faridkote, where the inhabitants speak a dialect similar to 
their own. 

If, however, they are suddenly and boldly accused of being 
Harnis, they will often admit the fact. 

As a Harni will never, if he can avoid doing so, eat his 
bread dry, ghi or clarified butter will nearly invariably be found 
in their baggage, except when they are masquerading as 
faquirs, in which case they will invariably beg or buy some 
ghi to eat with their meals. 

When abusing their children they often use the expression 
' phot Allah maria,' may God smite you. 

If any persons are suspected of being Harnis, their finger- 
prints should immediately be sent to the Phillour Bureau, 
where finger-prints of every registered Harni above the age of 
twelve are kept. 

In religion the Harni is, according to his lights, a strict 
Sunni, but his religion does not keep him from a desire for 
and appreciation of alcoholic liquors, a desire which he will 
generally gratify on any ' red letter ' day. 

The average height of a full grown male Harni is about 
five feet seven inches. They are well made, muscular and 
sinewy. Being taught habits of activity and endurance from 
their childhood, they are extremely hardy and have been 
known to proceed to a spot ten or fifteen kos (twelve and a 
half to nineteen miles) away, commit a burglary and return 
between nightfall and dawn. 

Their food is principally bread made from wheat flour or 
crushed Indian corn. They are generally monogamous, though 
a few have a second wife, and the men invariably marry 
women of their own tribe. The majority of them are abso- 
lutely uneducated, nor do they desire education. 

Their language is Panjabi, but they use so many words 
of their own that two Harnis can carry on a conversation 
without an outsider understanding them. The most common 
of their words are ' tusian ' (policeman) ; ' dhariwala ' (a station 
house officer of police), ' dhotni ' (a woman), ' damrid of 
Chhetra ' (a rupee). 

They will absent themselves without permission from their 
villages for long periods, during their absence remitting sums 



of money to their relatives through the post office at 

When tired of their wanderings, they often return home 
and surrender themselves to the police, and by telling a 
piteous tale of woe as to how they were forced by want and 
the lack of any means of livelihood to leave their villages without 
permission, as their applications for passes or tickets-of-leave 
were either refused or never replied to, often get off with as 
light a sentence as six weeks' imprisonment, and thereafter 
return to their villages to live on the proceeds of their wander- 

Those living in the neighbourhood of their villages are loth 
to prosecute or give evidence against Harnis, as they very 
often carry on intrigues with Harnee women, while they are 
in fear of the Harnis in retaliation destroying their crops 
and ricks. 

In the Ludhiana District there are at present the following 
registered male Harnees (of above twelve to fourteen years of 
age). The finger-prints of all such are taken and kept at the 
Central Bureau at Phillour, but the fact that a suspected 
man's finger-prints are not traced at Phillour is not absolute 
proof that the man is not a Harni, as several have absconded 
and do abscond when served with a notice to show why they 
should not be brought under the provisions of the Criminal 
Tribes Act : 

In Kiri, Badalwal, 

In other villages 

Bir, Mirpur, 


exempted for Number who 


life from pro- have been 


visions of convicted of 


any offence. 

of 1871. 








Another account of the present-day methods of Harni 
criminals is reproduced in the form of extracts from a very 
interesting and instructive report, dated 26th January 1907, on 
the tribe, by Mr. Frank Clough, Officiating Superintendent 
of Police, Ludhiana, in the Panjab. 

* * * * 

It is now necessary to describe the actual methods 
employed by the Harni in the commission of burglary or tdpd, 
and this is all the more important that other criminals have 
copied his methods in them and offences committed in 
this manner can no longer be attributed solely to the Harni, 
although there is no doubt that he is far bolder and far 
more skilful and workmanlike in burglary and tdpd than his 

In committing tdpd, one man steadies himself against the 
wall and holds his hands, palms upward, at his shoulders. 
Another then jumps on his back and places a foot on each 
hand and is lifted up until he can reach the top of the wall 
and draw himself up. His descent is made in the same way 
or by leaping down. 

Sometimes only one of the gang enters the courtyard or 
climbs on the roof; sometimes one or more of his companions 
will follow him, in which case they will often stand over the 
sleepers (especially if aiw be men) with their sticks, ready to 
beat or frighten them inw remaining quiet, should they awake, 
and deter them from raising an alarm or from attempting to 
seize any of the gang. 

In some cases the gang will quietly fasten the courtyard 
doors of neighbouring buildings from the outside by putting 
the chain over the hook ; then one of the gang enters the 
courtyard of the house, the occupants of which are to be 
robbed, and quietly opens the door of the courtyard from 
inside to admit his fellow criminals. Should any alarm be 
raised, the burglars beat the occupants and vanish and the 
neighbours are hindered, at least for some time, from coming 
to the assistance of those robbed. 

In the commission of tdpd, ornaments are sometimes cut, 
sometimes wrenched, and sometimes (as in the case of ear- 
rings) torn from off the persons of the sleepers. 


Before committing tdpd, one of the gang will often enter 
the village as a faqir or religious mendicant, and obtain 
a good knowledge of the ins and outs of the nouses and of 
the ornaments worn by the women and children. The 
sabbal or instrument of burglary is like a long nail (without 
the head) ; both the body and tip are round (although in 
some the tip has four sides) and it resembles a well-sharpened 
lead-pencil, except that the tip is more gradually rounded off. 
It is made of iron, heated and beaten into shape, is usually 
about fifteen to eighteen inches in length, an inch in diameter 
at the thickest part, and about a pound and a half in weight 
and has a hole bored through the top, which is carefully 
rounded off. Through this hole a piece of thick string or 
thin rope is passed and tied so as to form a loop. This is 
slipped over the arm tip to the shoulder and causes the 
sabbal to hang down the side between the arm and the body 
and remain unnoticed. 

The other necessary articles, such as the sickle, matches 
and knife are concealed on the persons of one of the gang. 
The instrument of burglary is never kept in their houses, but 
concealed elsewhere and only taken when they are actually 
setting out for the offence. The sickle or datri has a very 
toothed or saw-like edge. Before setting out, they eat sweet 
rice (the reason for which is not apparent but is probably due 
to superstition). In former days they took a hnqa with 
them, now they take a small narela (a hnqa with a short 
stem, often no mouth-piece, and the receptacle for water 
consisting of a cocoa-nut) or morafloften merely a chilinn. 
Before stripping for the fray and leaving their clothes outside 
the village in which the offence is contemplated, the gang 
will have a smoke, for they are devoted followers of the 
goddess Nicotine. 

Each man having taken up his proper post, if the offence 
determined on be a burglary, the burglar cleverly selects a 
weak spot in the wall next the ground and sometimes in the 
roof and begins to dig through it ; in the former case digging 
into the ground at the same time, so that he may get under 
the wall to some extent. The work is quickly done, as the 
Harni pushes his sabbal into the wall and wrenches parts 
away rather than digs them out. The sound made is very 
very slight and not likely to awaken a sound sleeper. In a 
comparatively short time, say half an hour to an hour, a hole 
is made up to the plaster of the inner side of the wall. A 

HARNIS. 279 

small hole is made in this and the plaster is carefully broken 
off into the burglar's left hand so that it may not fall on the 
ground and wake the occupants of the room. As portions of 
the wall are dug away, they are pushed back by the burglar 
to the man outside the hole, whom I shall hereafter call the 
assistant, and placed outside so as to leave -the hole quite 
clear. As soon as the hole is sufficiently large, the burglar 
rounds his shoulders as far as possible, crosses his arms, the 
hands being in front of his head and enters the room noise- 

The burglar is said by Mr. Warburton to enter the room 
feet foremost and leave it head foremost ; but in an illustration 
given me of a burglary, the burglar's head was the first part 
of his body to enter the room and the last to leave it. 

Stepping across the room without a sound, he speedily 
locates the receptacles containing property (using if necessary 
a sulphur match). If he can cut open the receptacle, he 
does so ; if not, he coils a fold of cloth round the point of 
the sabbal, inserts it in the hasp of the lock and, by using 
a little leverage, breaks the lock open with very little noise. 

He will sometimes cut off from a sleeping woman or child 
a ponchi (bracelet fastened with string) or a hamail or kantlii 
(necklaces with string fastenings). 

As soon as the burglar enters, his assistant comes into the 
hole and lies there with his face just in the room. Both men 
have a loose fold of their pagris or small turbans tied low 
down over their eyes, to protect the eyes from dust rather 
than to guard against recognition. 

The burglar hands out articles of value to his assistant 
who rapidly deposits them outside and, when they have taken 
all they want, they decamp. 

Should one of the occupants of the room stir or begin to 
wake, the assistant glides out of the hole and the burglar 
noiselessly and with incredible rapidity assumes his place, 
seeing what is going to happen. Should the sleeper be 
thoroughly aroused and become suspicious, both vanish and 
leave the village with what they may have obtained. Should 
the sleeper sink into sound sleep again, the burglar enters 
the room and continues his work. 

In some cases the occupant of the room will be aware 
of the burglar's presence but will be quiet through fear and 
raise no alarm until the burglar has finished his task and 
gone away. 


If, owing to the nature of the ground, they are obliged to 
leave tracks, they avoid detection by tying pieces of cloth 
round their feet, or by treading on their toes and distorting, 
as much as possible, the prints of their feet. If a suitable 
opportunity be obtained, they will, after leaving the village, 
sometimes walk back towards it, leaving these unrecognizable 
foot-prints, in order to create a suspicion that the offender is 
a resident of the village. 

The hole made by the Harni in committing a burglary is 
\<-ry small and neatly made, for the smaller the hole and the 
better it is made, the greater the reputation of the burglar. 

The Harni has been in times past, and may be at the 
present day, greatly assisted to escape the law by the nature 
of the persons despoiled, the character of the village clioiv- 
kidar and headman, the sloth or ignorance, or both, of the local 
police, and the doubts entertained by them as to whether a 
grown man could have entered by the hole used by the 

This is due in many cases to the complainant, inten- 
tionally or through mistake, saying that he recognized the 
accused as being a certain person or that he is sure that 
such-and-such a person or persons must be the culprits (this 
is often done to cause annoyance to enemies) ; to the Harni 
generally leaving no footprints behind him ; to delay in taking 
up the enquiry ; to dissensions in the village and the com- 
plainant having many enemies and a reputation for being a 
' muqadma-baz ' or manufacturer of cases ; to the police 
being influenced by the complainant's statement and, after 
endeavouring to fit the crime to the person or persons, named 
by him as having been seen or suspected by him, and failing, 
being convinced that the complainant has deceived them ; 
this being greatly due to the smallness of the hole made, for 
I have seen a Harni slip, with ease, through a hole, through 
which it seemed hardly, if at all, possible for a full-grown 
man (or even a boy) to pass. 

All these causes tend to convince the police that; the 
n:ase is most undoubtedly a false one and they report accord- 
ingly, the complainant being sometimes bullied into stating in 
writing that he has really suffered no loss ; the case is often 
cancelled, or else left untraced ; enquiries, in any case, are 
closed, and, even if the real culprits were to be subsequently 
sent for trial in the case, ordinarily they would almost certainly 
l><- discharged for want of proof owing to tin- conflicting nature 

HARMS. 281 

of the statements, etc., recorded in their former enquiry by 
the police. 

* * * # # 

Locally, that is, in the Panjab, Harnis will endeavour to 
get together a gang of their fellows and to meet near a place 
suitable for burglary or tdpd. They effect their purpose by 
(a) obtaining passes for long periods to sell vegetables or 
carry goods on camels or in bullock carts ; (b) obtaining 
passes to visit villages in distant parts of their own district 
or in other districts, where the village headman, who is sup- 
posed to record on the pass and verify the date and time of 
the arrival and departure of the pass-holder, is generally 
uneducated and nearly invariably entirely ignorant of what he 
is expected to do, and hence places his seal on a note on the 
pass to the effect that the pass-holder visited and left the 
village at certain hours on certain dates, without troubling 
himself as to whether the dates are correct, or the license- 
holder remained in the village during the whole of the period 
mentioned ; (c) obtaining passes to go to head-quarters, etc., 
and spending less time on the journey than they are supposed 
to have done and thus visiting other places ; (d] transgressing 
the conditions re routes, etc., of the pass, and relying on not 
being detected or, if detected, proceeded against (and such 
reliance is very often not misplaced) ; (e) joining with Harnis 
of Native States where the provisions of the Criminal Tribes 
Act are either enforced not at all or very indifferently ; (f) 
joining Harnis who have life-exemption passes or who have 
been given passes to work on canals, etc. ; (g) absenting 
themselves for long periods ; (//) going away from their 
villages between sunset and sunrise to places as far off, in 
some cases, as ten or fifteen kos (fifteen or twenty miles). 

When a gang of this sort can get together, the members 
proceed to a village, where a place suitable for the commis- 
sion of burglary or tdpd has been marked out by one of 
the gang, and conceal themselves in the neighbourhood or 
arrive in the vicinity after night-fall. Having committed their 
burglary or tdpd they then disperse, after dividing the 
property stolen or making it over to one of the gang with a 
view to its disposal and future division of the proceeds. 

If one of the gang, invariably disguised as a faqir or 
religious mendicant, goes to a village " to spy out the land," 
the rest are left behind, a signal, such as the call of some 
common animal or bird, having been agreed on ; in his 
absence, should any one chance to be too inquisitive in 


his enquiries as to the business of those left behind, or 
should they, for some reason, deem it advisable to move on, 
one of the gang will sometimes make on the ground with his 
foot a very superficial mark like this : 

a mark which, even if noticed, would never cause any sus- 
picion to the person noticing it. This is interesting as greatly 
resembling the marks used by European gypsies. 

On his return the spy will see if there is any mark ; if 
there is one, the line will point out the direction in which his 
friends have gone ; if there is not, he will go to some neigh- 
bouring eminence, such as a sand-hill, and emit the call 
previously agreed on, which will generally be answered by one 
of his friends and enable him to find them. 

If a Harni cannot obtain the co-operation of other Harnis, 
he co-operates, but very raYely, with non-Harni bad characters, 
but never with those of the village in which the offence is to 
be committed. He will usually, in such circumstances, resort 
to some influential Jat Sikh, and, obtaining from him a place 
of concealment and valuable information, await a suitable 
opportunity for committing an offence. 

Cases have been known in which a Harni has proceeded to 
some village or town and taken up his abode in the takia 
as a faqir, collecting information for the benefit of other 
Harnis who may visit him. 

No Harni will commit or attempt to commit a burglary 

No Harni will seek, as confederates in crime, members of 
other criminal tribes, except, and then very rarely, Sdnsis. 

The following are the places most frequently patronised 
by Harnis for the commission of crime : 

i. The Panjab, south and east of the Jhelum and Rawal- 
pindi districts (although they have been arrested as far 
west as Multan), and the adjoining Native States, but 
principally the Ambala, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Feroze- 
pore and Ludhiana districts, and the Native States of 
Patiala and Faridkot. 

HAKNIS. 283 

2. Burma, and chiefly Mandalay. 

3. Haiderabad (Deccan). 

4. Aurangabad. 

5. Bombay Presidency Surat, Nasik and Bombay. 

6. The Central Provinces. 

7. Madras. 

8. Ceylon. 

Nagpur and the Deccan are patronised mainly by the 
Harnis of Bodalwala and Tappar ; Bombay and Burma by 
those of Bir and Mirpur ; the Harnis of Kiri seldom, if ever, 
leave the Panjab, though one was arrested recently in 

In Bombay, the Harni, in some cases works at the docks 
as a ship's painter or as a stoker ; but, as a rule, he wanders 
about in the garb of a faqir, and by trading on the susceptibi- 
lities of generous and religious-minded persons, reaps a rich 
harvest, in most cases from Rs. 15 to Rs. 30 a month, inas- 
much as the shop-keepers of Bombay are said to be very 
averse to refusing alms to religious-mendicants, and the Harni, 
well disguised as a.fayir, and calling loudly and speciously on 
the name of God, imposes greatly on his dupes. 

A number of the Harni women of the Jagraon ildka in 
the Ludhiana district reside in Bombay and do very well by 
following the " oldest profession in the world," inasmuch as 
they enjoy a very large share of the patronage of Panjabi stokers 
and sailors, who, when paid off at the end of a voyage, 
generally have a fair amount of money, which they are not 
slow in spending, and the greater part of which generally finds 
its way into the hands of these ' Harnianis.' Their husbands 
and relatives not only acquiesce in this, and are said, in some 
instances, to have lived in the houses in which their women 
ply their nefarious trade and to have acted as door-keepers 
to the apartments in which they receive their visitors. 

Owing to the houses in Bombay being pakka } i. e., of 
burnt brick and mortar, the Harni commits no burglaries there 
and confines himself to stealing such articles as may be lying 
about in the front or neighbourhood of shops, etc. It is said 
that Harnis, when going to Bombay, travel by the narrow 
gauge railway via Bandikui, at which place there is said to 
be a rich Muhammad an butcher, who, believing them to be 


faqirs, sends them free of charge to Bombay in the trains 
which convey his animals there weekly. 

Beyond the PanjAb, and when wandering about India and 
Burma, they adopt the following disguises and roles : 

(a) Jugglers and acrobats, in which case they perform 
somersaults, sleight-of-hand tricks, etc., for which they 
are particularly well fitted by their strong and wiry 
bodies and active habits. 

(b) Faq'irs. Asfagirs they will state themselves to be of 
the Qadria, Benawa or Banwa, Gurzmar or Gurjmar, 
Madari, Husseini, Naushahi and Majawir sects, while 
some give themselves out to be ' Panjabi faqirs] a very 
general term which may mean anything. 

If asked their ' shijra ' or genealogy, they will readily give 
a genealogy reaching back to the prophet Ali, and 
state, as a rule, that their pir or saint is Taimur Shah 
of Surat. 

(c) Mtrdsis. As such they will sing to the accompaniment 
of the drum and make a fair livelihood by this means. 

(d} Qalandars. In thi's case they will give performances 
with dancing bears and monkeys ; they are very skilful 
in this and seem, in this pursuit, to completely take in 
the police and the public as to their real personalities, 
and to make a very good living. They follow this 
calling nearly invariably only in Burma, where these 
performances appear to appeal greatly to the people 
of the country, and the performer is well rewarded. 

(e} In some cases, and then only in such parts of the 
Panjab where they would not be considered foreigners, 
but very seldom, they go about as potters (Kumhars), 
Banjaras or Baisatis (i. e., grain merchants), or Rains, 
i. ., husbandmen or dealers in hides, etc. 

(f) Some who went in the direction of Colombo are said 
to have taken up pocket-picking and pocket-cutting, 
being disguised, when necessary, as ' Pan}abi fagirs.' 

(g) Others were said to be in Aurangabad and Parbani 
in the Deccan, and to have adopted the guise of 
Husseini and Naushahi faqirs, and to have indulged in 
swindling passers-by on roads by gambling. 

(h) Last year a gang was said to be in Mandalay ; its 
members were stated by ' informers ' to be living by 

HARNIS. 285 

performing tricks with bears and monkeys, one of the 
gang also indulging in the robbery of travellers by the 
administration of stupefying drugs. 

In some cases these absentees indulge in work on rail- 
ways as gangmen, etc., but they seldom keep to it for any 
length of time and soon take to some unsettled means of 
livelihood, such as bear-leading, etc. At the same time, it is 
only right to say that one or two of the absentee Harnis, who 
have been arrested in Bombay in former years, have really 
been earning an honest livelihood as ships' painters and 
stokers, and some, who have been granted passes, still 
do so. 

We may, therefore, hold, with a considerable degree of 
correctness, that the Harni will ordinarily indulge in his own 
province, in burglary and tdpd, and in other provinces in 
begging, prostituting his women, cheating (by gambling), 
petty thefts, pocket-picking (uchakagi) and pocket-cutting 
(jebtardshi), and, in very exceptional cases, robbery by the 
administration of stupefying drugs : that, in his own province, 
he will adopt no disguise or else assume the part of a faqir, 
husbandman or Arain, etc., and, elsewhere, the roles which 
I have already mentioned. 

The roles assumed are always Muhammadan ones and 
I have heard of only one Harni who adopted Hindu disguises, 
i. e., of a Brahmin, etc. 

Their appearance (when they absent themselves) is greatly 
altered by large beards, for they are said to employ a prepara- 
tion of cocoanut oil which causes a very rapid and thick growth 
of beard. Two Harnis captured in Madras certainly had larger 
and thicker beards than any I have seen worn by any Harni 
in this district. 

The Harni, before absenting himself (without permission) for 
a tour in India or Burma, takes care to suffer as little loss as 
possible in so doing. Hence, sometimes before going away, he 
will sell or mortgage bd-qabzd (that is, the mortgagee has full 
possession of the land until redeemed) any land he may possess 
to some fellow Harni, and whether any money ever changes 
hands is extremely doubtful. As a rule, he cannot so 
dispose of his house, but this is also arranged for. The 
Harni departs and cannot be traced, and the machinery of 
the law begins to move against him. Evidence is recorded 
against him under section 512 of the Criminal Procedure 


Code, and under the provisions of sections 87 and 88 of the 
same code, his goods are confiscated to the Crown and 
auctioned. All that the Crown can seize, if anything, is the 
absentee's house and this is knocked down to some relation 
of the absentee for a mere pittance, for no outsider will be fool 
enough to step in and bid for or buy it. 

The absentee has, meantime, sought other ' climes ' 
(or, at any rate, districts). In a short time, money begins 
to arrive at his village, remitted by him by money-order 
from time to time to his relatives through the Jagraon post 
office or to trusty go-betweens living in Jagraon or elsewhere. 
This money is well invested or stored up by his relatives 
against the day of his return. He remains away, sometimes 
a few years, sometimes many, and, in a few cases, for ever. 

As a rule he returns sooner or later ; sometimes in custody 
at Government expense ; not unoften he comes back to his 
village and surrenders himself to the police. In either case, 
when produced in court, his defence is the same a piteous 
tale of woe of hard times in the village, no means of sub- 
sistence ; his constant appeals for passes or tickets-of-leave 
to seek work never heeded or answered by a hard-hearted 
police, unacquainted with his needs and circumstances ; his 
gallant struggle to earn a meagre but honest livelihood in a 
land far distant from his well-loved home and has completely 
hood-winked many a soft-hearted magistrate, unacquainted 
with the Harni, into passing on him a sentence of the most 
extraordinary lightness. 

Having cheerfully served his time in jail, he returns to 
his village and lives on the proceeds of his tour for the rest 
of his life (except when they are so insufficient as to cause 
him to go on another tour in foreign parts), redeeming the 
land he mortgaged before his departure or buying that of 
others. In some cases he then sets down to a life of agri- 
culture, often getting a sdnji or partner to do the brunt 
of the work, and in a few years begins to clamour on the 
score of a blameless life ! to be exempted from the provisions 
of the Criminal Tribes Act, and, sometimes, with the aid of 
a complacent thdneddr is successful in getting a pass of 
life-exemption from the Criminal Tribes Act. 

These methods of crime are not practised by the Gownimar 
Harnis, who are found only in the village 

Gownimar Harms. t tr* ' *u T JL* j' A 'i 'i 

of Kin in the Ludhiana district, and 

HARMS. 287 

I believe, in one village near Kartarpur in the Jullundur 
district and in one or two villages in the Hoshiarpur district. 
Their principal method of crime is common to, I think, no other 
criminal tribe or class in the world, and is this. 

Both formerly and at the present day, but to a smaller 
extent, their women, who, when young, are said to be (to 
borrow a phrase from Mr. Gordon's remarks on female 
Berihas) " handsome wenches and endowed with a saucy 
frankness which contrasts favourably with the demeanour of 
the ordinary native woman of the plains, '' while young and 
comely, enter the houses of rich and well-to-do persons as 
servants, mistresses or wives. After the lapse of some time, 
which may extend to several years, they seize a suitable 
opportunity and make over articles of jewellery or other valu- 
ables which can be conveniently carried off, to some of their 
male relative, who, on information supplied, visits the house 
as a faqir or religious mendicant, or else they themselves 
take such articles and vanish, leaving behind them as a 
souvenir or memlut for their masters or husbands, as the case 
may be, any children they may have borne during their 
residence with them. Should, by any chance, it come to 
light, before they can make their escape, that they have thus 
disposed of jewellery or valuables belonging to their masters 
or husbands, they boldly defy the latter to do anything 
or to inform the police, and by threatening to say that they 
are either of some very low caste, such as the sweeper, or 
of a criminal tribe, and to thus expose their masters or hus- 
bands to the shame and possibly blame of having knowingly 
kept such a person in their houses ; and for this reason the 
men are, as a rule, only too glad to make the best of the loss 
they have suffered and to turn the women out of their houses 
and wash their hands of them. This being all that the 
woman desires, she makes her way home and enjoys with her 
relatives the fruits of her wrong-doing. 

The Gownimars are also said to enter in disguise houses 
in which marriage or other ceremonies are taking place and 
large number of people are assembled, steal any articles they 
can conveniently conceal on their persons, but at the present 
day, at any rate, no such cases have come to notice in this 

They are said, too, to commit burglary, but to no very 
gieat extent. 


In the Harni village of Kiri the Harni is very well-behaved 
at present ; the men are taking up 
1 agriculture and cultivate, besides the 

land of their own village, land belong- 
ing to neighbouring villages. The women are ceasing to 
follow their hereditary traditions and the men are settling 
down to the ordinary existence of the Panjabi Muhammadan. 

In the Harni village of Bir, Tappar and Bodalwala and 
the village of Mirpur (of which the Harnis form about a 
quarter of the population), the case is different ; the inhabitants 
are a stiff-necked race, of whom few have any real love for 
agriculture ; the majority prefer to grow and trade in vege- 
tables, or convey goods on camels or in bullock carts and, 
for this reason, often mortgage their land to purchase camels 
or bullock carts and oxen. Some, but very few, obtain passes 
and serve on camels, one or two working at the docks in 
Bombay, and three are policemen in different places. They 
continually absent themselves for long periods, and, after their 
return and subsequent term of prison-life, live in comfort for 
some time after. Locally they do little crime except an 
occasional burglary. 

In the other villages, the population of which they form 
a very small part, the Harnis are generally very well-behaved 
and make a very comfortable livelihood by agriculture, some 
owing a fair amount of land and others being hereditary 
tenants (nuufdra mdurusi). 

It must, however, be said in favour of the Harni in his 
large villages in this district that he is what he is owing, to 
a very great extent, to force of circumstances. In the inspec- 
tion register of Jagraon police station, are many complaints 
by several District Superintendents of Police, these complaints 
extending to some thirty years back, to the effect that the 
Harnis of the Jagraon sub-division have not sufficient means 
of livelihood and that Government has not complied with 
sections 3 and 4 of the Criminal Tribes Act, i. e., in satisfy- 
ing itself that the members of this tribe had sufficient means 
of livelihood before registering them and bringing them under 
the provisions of the Criminal Tribes Act. 

The land belonging to each village is probably the same 
as (and the population no less) it was in 1873 and the land 
at present in these villages is not sufficient for the subsistence 
of the inhabitants of these villages. Thus 

HARMS. 289 

Amount of cultivated 
Ullage. Population. land belonging to village. 


Bir ... 554 315 

Mirpur ... 333 468 

Tappar 448 134 

Bodalwala ... 460 554 

Kirf ... 314 422 

It is clear from this, reckoning the average annual yield 
of an acre as being about 20 maunds (kham] of grain, that, 
even if there was no revenue to pay, the land of these villages 
is not enough to sustain its inhabitants. 

Some of these Harnis, but not very many, are beginning 
to take passes and go to other villages for a season and join 
land-owners in cultivation, while others work on brick-kilns. 

In Kapurthala State, Harnis are, I am told, employed in 
the army and give satisfaction. 

In conclusion, one may say that the Ludhiana Harnis are 
most notorious, being followed closely in this respect by those 
of Ferozepore, and, but not so closely, by the Harnis of the 
Jullundur and Hoshiarpur districts. 

Even at the present day, the neighbours of the Harnis 
of large villages are very loth to complain of or give evidence 
against them for two reasons : 

(a) because they form liaisons with their women ; 

(b) because they are afraid of the Harnis retaliating 
and destroying their crops. 

The language of the Harni is Panjabi, that is, the grammar 
and idiom are Paniabi, but the Harni 

Language. . . . , J , , . 

in conversing with men of his own 

tribe will use so many peculiar words, that two Harnis 
can carry on a conversation of which the uninitiated will 
understand neither the meaning nor the drift. 

I attach a list of about a hundred of the most common 
words used by them. In them it is noticeable that several 
words are used with meanings other than those they bear in 
Urdu or Panjdbi : 

Harni idiomatic words. English meaning. 

bahli ... ... Harni. 

nikh'iro ... ... thief. 

pothi ... . . the comrades of the thief. 

B 51419 



Harni idiomatic words. 









rizak dewa 

bahlia darhli birk 



hatongar baggi 
hatongar pila ... 


katra hogia ; thara hogia 


dhotni upar ke batak h ... 

barki pei h6 ... 


khassan mun satto 



English meaning. 

stick or club. 

cloth or clothes. 

clothes worn when commit- 
ting a theft. 

burglary : the act of burglary. 


a man of another tribe. 


instrument of burglary. 

giver of food. 

' oppose them ' or ' resist 

lambardar ; a tricky word, as 
mundi is common Panjabi 
for a ring. 



a Jat or Jat. 


house or building. 


boy or son. 

girl or daughter. 



ornaments of silver. 

ornaments of gold. 

ear-rings of gold. 

necklace or bracelet. 


dark night. 

moonlight night. 


buried articles. 

run away. 

(said while committing an 
offence) ; the .stranger 
knows ; a stranger has 
come, run away. 


the woman sleeps on the 

the woman is careless. 


contrive to climb the wall. 

rupee. (In Panjabi chhitra, 
broken shoe.) 

an eight-anna bit. 

two-anna or four-anna bit. 



Harni idiomatic words. 

mata ho ja 


naka ; naki 




naka daunle 



nakhar barki hui 

sakli hogia 


wadda gehra ... 


gehra soraida ... 

chatta karo 

burkna rodla ... 

dochu soti 

tauriwala taunkda 

gauni vich katwa burklo 





shakar jatde 


daddu burk de . . . 


khula chhaukra 





bagge chhokre wala 





tokna penda ... 


tusia mata 


hateli gandi 

khonk uparle chokre lagdi 

English meaning. 

absent yourself or make 

yourself scarce, 
ox ; cow. 

cattle theft, 

stolen property, 
he has been put in prison, 

jail daroga. 
fetters or handcuffs, 

hide the property. 
' huqa.' 
' chilum.' 

the chowkidar wanders about, 
rob some one on a. road, 
a Sansi. 
the thief's penknife or 

to remove the earth from the 

hole made by the burglar, 

break the lock, 
open door, 

goldsmith or banker, 
clean place, 
grove of trees, 
a European or an English 


a Gujjar. 

the dog barks, 

a weak constable, 
to mark a burglarious hole 


the hole (of burglary) is or. 
top or above. 



Harni idiomatic words 

bhart wali . , 

mudki wale da khonk 
bhasne d;i khonk 

bahli nu kharlia 

bagge chhokre da 
dhontia da dahla 

bagle da khonk 

nokhi ho gia . .. 




khotne dani 



English meaning. 
the place for making the 

burglary hole is hard, 
the house of a Mirasi. 
the house of a Sayyad or 

they have thrown down the 


native state territory. 
British territory, 
there is a bed in front of the 

burglary hole, 
the house of a Rajput, 
some one has been killed, 
sugar or flour (?) 
a pice. 

blanket or rug. 
mulieris pudenda. 

In religion the Harni is, according to his lights, a strict 
Suni, but his religion does not prevent 

Religion. , , . \. .. 

a desire for and an appreciation of 

alcoholic liquors, a desire which he will generally gratify on 
any ' red letter ' day, especially when funds are plentiful. 

They greatly reverence Sayyads, and hold in special esteem, 
being Muhammadans of the Qadri and Hanfi sects, Pir Shah 
Abdul Karim Sahib of Delhi, whose tenets they follow. They 
hold in respect the pilgrimage to Mecca, and, among places 
the Khanqah of Shad6 Shah in village Gagra, the Khanqah 
of Hassu Shah in village Tappar, the Khanqah of Zahir Wali 
in village Bodalwala (all these three villages are in the Jagraon 
sub-division of the Ludhiana district), and to a greater extent, 
the Khanqah of Amin-ud-din Chisti in Ajmer Sharif, and the 
Khanqah of Taimur Shah in Surat, and, to a very great 
extent, the Khanqah of Hazrat Shah Abdul Karim Sahib, 
referred to above in Delhi. 

Very few of them have more than one wife, and the men 
marry only women of their own tribe. 


The Harni (male) adult is, on an average, about 5 feet 
. . , 7 inches in height. They are well, 

Physique and appearance, etc. / , .. fc . .J "> 

but not heavily made, wiry, muscular, 
sinewy and very healthy. 



They are of a free and outspoken disposition, not slow 
to voice their sentiments or air their grievances, and hold no 
one in respect or fear. 

They are not such fluent or perfect liars as members of 
other criminal tribes : and, if treated well and approached in 
the right way, will sometimes give information about the doings 
of members of their tribe. 

They are taught habits of endurance and activity from boy- 
hood ; and it is said that a full-grown Harni could, if necessary, 
go ten or fifteen kos (twelve to twenty miles) and back between 
sunset and sunrise and commit a burglary too. 

The usual dress of the men is a small turban of coarse cloth, 
a kurta or jacket of the same cloth, and a short or long teh-band 
(or loin-cloth tied round and hanging from the waist) according 
to their work or occupation at the time. To this is often added 
a waistcoat, and sometimes, an old, ill-fitting coat ; while in cold 
weather, like other natives, they envelop themselves in a lot or 
rug or thick sheet (Panjabi dohar), 

The women always wear petticoats and neither they nor the 
men ever wear pajamas or pantaloons. 

Practically none of them have received any education, nor 
do any desire it. 

* * 

This tribe is also known as Machhimar, i. e. } slayers of fish, 

p khiwdra an ^ tnere ^ s no doubt that it is an off- 

shoot of the Harni tribe. This tribe 

is found chiefly, if not wholly, in the Sialkot district and also 
goes by the name of Chirimar, Arain, and sometimes Mo, 
i. <?., dwellers by rivers. It is registered under the Criminal 
Tribes Act in Sialkot district. 

The members of this tribe frequently leave their villages 
and come to the Ferozepore and Lahore districts for crime 
and, on these occasions, live with zamindars or agriculturists, 
who are acquainted with them. In villages they pose as 
goats' hides merchants, or sell tooth-powder, rosaries, etc., to 
the women, and in this manner become acquainted with the 
ins and outs of the houses, which is of great assistance to 
them in the commission of crime. On dark nights they 
commit thefts at railway stations and goods sheds and on 
trains and are also addicted to burglary. They also commit 
burglary, but, unlike the Harni, generally make an entry 
through the roof. They commit their offences in the same 

294 AiM'Kxmx in. 

way as Harnis, i. e., at places distant from their homes. They 
visit, in the Ferozepore district, the Dogars living near the 
river, and are said to pay them monthly sums of money for 
their assistance. 

Some are said to visit the Samm6 mohalla near the Bhati 
Gate of Lahore city and commit burglaries, etc., in Anarkalli 
and other places. Ostensibly they are mild and pleasant- 
spoken persons, but in reality they are criminals of the most 
desperate and reckless nature and hesitate neither to inflict 
hurt nor to suffer it. 

Their women are rank prostitutes, not only in villages, but 
in cantonments, etc., and convey news for their men. 

The men are generally of wheat complexion, big eyes, to 
which they frequently apply siu-uni, and of strong build 
and frequently wear gdnis, or very small rosaries, round 
their necks, and affect the appearance of zamindars. 

They are of the Muhammadan religion. 

The women wear petticoats, and the men dress like Harnis 
except that they give a -mat to their turbans, i. e., twist the 
folds in tying them. They carry huqds and tawds (iron 
vessels for cooking chapdtis). 

It is natural that his surroundings, his religion and his 
intermarriages with other races have had a marked effect on 
the physical attributes of the Harni ; and, even if it cannot 
be said that he resembles in figure or feature members of 
Hindu criminal tribes, such as the Sansi and the Bauriah, 
though (I am told) there is no very marked bodily difference 
between him and the Biloch or the Pachada, yet the moral 
attributes of both the Harni and every other criminal tribe, 
Hindu or Muhammadan, i. e., their excessive powers of lying, 
their love of liquor and tobacco, their looseness of character, 
the general prostitution of their women, their garb (for very 
few members, male or female, of criminal tribes, at least in 
the Panjab, wear pajamas or pantaloons), their special 
languages (the variations in which are fully accounted for by 
eminent authorities), their inveterate love of theft and robbery, 
and, lastly, their dislike to a settled life, point to and prove 
their common stock, i. e. t that of the Indian aborigine or gipsy, 
the ancestor of all the gipsies of the continents of Europe 
and Asia. 

HARMS. 295 

I close this report by expressing my great obligation to 
Mr. J. P. Warburton, formerly of the Panjab Police and now 
Inspector-General of Police, Patiala, for his full account (left 
by him in the Ludhiana district) of the Harnis up to the year 
1873, and for the copious information and valuable advice, 
which he has been good enough to give me on various occasions, 
regarding this tribe, and I regret that I have not been able to 
consult him, as fully as I wished, on some of the points set 
down in this report. 



The following information on a criminal organization styled 
' Chandrawedis ' has been collated with the assistance of some 
of its members, acknowledged experts of the community, by 
the Criminal Branch of the Indore State Police* 

The tradition of the origin of this criminal band, as handed 
down among themselves, is briefly as follows : 

About 66 years ago there lived in village Raruwa (south- 
west of Alampur) in Datia State two Sanawars or Sanoriyas 
who claimed to be Brahmins, named Ramlal and Madan 
Prasad. They were both learned men, and it is said that one 
of them was able to predict events, while the other could 
understand the language of birds. It so happened that a rich 
merchant was going with his wife on a pilgrimage to Jagannath 
when Ramlal and Madan Prasad met them at a river. While 
they were drinking water, a crow sitting on a tree commenced 
cawing. The Brahmin told his companion that the crow had 
said that if any one got possession of the merchant's walking- 
stick, he would become rich. Highway robberies, etc., were 
rife at this period and travellers used to resort to various 
devices to conceal, their valuables. Sometimes gold mohurs 
were sewn between the soles of shoes or between the folds of 
dirty-looking mattresses. This travellei had filled the hollow 
of his walking-stick with gold mohurs. The two Brahmins 
accompanied the merchant for a part of the journey, and, as 
soon as opportunity presented itself, relieved him of his 
walking-stick and decamped. Encouraged by the success of 
their first attempt, Ramlal and his comrade not only took it up 
as a trade, but opened a private school in their village where 
they taught small boys, irrespective of caste, the art of 
stealing during the day. Prior to admission, the lads were 
made to swear by the moon that they would never commit 
thefts by night. The exploits of these persons were noised 
abroad and attracted the attention of the Maharaja of Datia 
who found them such faithful and profitable subjects that when 
a big darbar was held in Delhi, with a view to secure his own 
safety and that of his property on the journey to and from the 
darbar, he took a large number of the followers of Ramlal 
and Madan Prasad with him to Delhi. They did their duty so 
well that when the question came up in the darbar as to which 



class of subjects of the various States were the most loyal 
.ind profitable, the Maharaja of Datia cited the valuable 
attributes of the followers of Ramlal and Madan Prasad, on 
which their methods were discussed and they were for the 
first time dubbed with the name of ' Chandrawedis ' as a 
special mark of distinction. 

Chandra wedi is a pure Sanskrit word derived from the 
following roots : 

} The men whose (thieving) acts are 


The men whose acts are bored into 
^ferreted out) by the light of the 

Chandra (moon) ) Th , e " wh , . bserve the moon (';'- 

wdi (observes). f desist fr m f f ln g wro "S owin * to the 

J presence of the moon). 

It was first presumed that the Chandrawedis belonged to 
one sect of Hindus, but enquiries have established the fact 
that Chandrawedis are not a class but a confraternity of 
criminals recruited from any caste of Hindus (except Sweepers 
or Chamars) or even Mahomedans. 

(NOTE : There are at the present only two known Maho- 
medan Chandrawedis.) 

There are two forms of initiation, one used with children, 
the other with adults : 

(1) Children. Little boys are admitted to a school where 
they are taught the art of ' lifting.' 

(2) Adults. Before anything is taught in the case of 
adults they are required to take a solemn oath on the ' Tulsi 
Ganga ' that they will under no circumstances divulge the 
secrets of the fraternity. 

For the first year, the novice has to remain on the staff 
at head-quarters, and is styled a ' derawala ' (i. e., one who 
stays at home). During his novitiate, a ' derawala ' is only 
entitled to a half share. If a ' derawala ' has proved himself 
faithful to the gang during the first year, he is, in the second 
year if he desires it, made either an ' upardar,' which means a 
conductor, or a ' chawa ' (or ' khaleth ') which means 
' uthaigir ' [i. e., the man who does" the ' lifting ' (stealing)], or 
he may, if he elects, continue to be a ' derawala.' This post, 
however, owing to the small risk incurred, only entitles him to 
a smaller share of the plunder. An ' upardar ' can advance 


himself to the position of a ' nalband ' or leader. A 
1 nalband ' is usually the richest man in the gang, a position 
reached only after many years of successful thieving. He is 
always a man of influence and usually commands a following 
of from ten to twenty. ' Nalband s ' are self-elected by virtue 
of their skill, experience and wealth. 

As ' Chandra wedism' has become synonymous with rapid and 
comparatively easy acquisition of property, combined with few of 
the risks attendant on more violent forms of crime, the number 
of recruits to its ranks has rapidly increased. From the time 
of its conception, when it consisted of only two members (its 
founders), to the present day, ' Chandrawedism ' has taken 
root and thriven to an abnormal extent, there being at the 
present time several colonies in Alampur with ramifications in 
Datia, Gwalior, Jhansi and other parts of Bundelkhand. 

A ' nalband ' usually selects little boys in preference to 
adults, because instruction is quickly imparted and thieving 
thus learnt is more dexterously accomplished. The number 
of boys under training with a ' nalband ' varies from one to 
six, and the art, which they are taught, has tw r o names : 

(1) ' par -si ' (i. ., secret code vocabulary), and 

(2) ' tent ' (i. e., secret code signals). 

The ' parsi ' vocabulary is fairly extensive ; some of it is 
given below. It is chiefly confined to nouns and has no 
grammar, so that to talk ' Parsi' it is necessary to amalgamate 
it with Hindi : 

C hand rawed i. English. 

khutarya ... bundle. 

kaniyai ... purse (money-bag). 

gond ... turban (safa*). 

kaithi (kamthi) ... turban (pugree^). 

pun-pathoo ... dhoti. 

tanai . . . coat. 

pujani ... drinking-pot. 

thanki . . dish. 

damri or nethi . . . rupee. 

dande ... copper coin. 

kanpi ... cowries (shells). 

gulli ... mohur (gold coin= Rs. 15). 

bardala . . . armlet. 

paiti ... toda or silver leg ornament. 

gallaga ... necklace. 

' Safa and phcta are the plain turban. 

t Pugree is the embroidered turban with gold or silver fringed ends. 


Chandrawedi. English. 

pitghesa or gunjitlai. .. gold necklace. 

nukli ... nose-ring. 

tokiya asur gaya ... a police constable is coming. 

khanchdev ... hide it. 

ukanjao ... run. 

seyand ... gold. 

uben . . . silver. 

setra . . . book. 

1. bakhole ~\ 

2. gonia ... shoes. 

3. gudari J 

rungathiojaw ... sheet of cloth. 

khol . .. bania's shop. 

kathari ... a safe for depositing valuables. 

teda ... lock and key. 

dharkarana ... door. 

lamani ... chain. 

banari ... walking-stick. 

mamada bhapat hai... you are being watched. 

' Tent ' consists merely of signs. For instance, an ' upar- 
dar ' is conversing with a victim while one of his lads is 
standing near by, and there is something to be lifted, the 
' upardar ' raises his hand to his cheek-bone and begins 
to scratch, which means ' approach nearer.' Next he raises 
his elbow and points it in the direction in which the article 
is lying ; at this sign the boy picks up the article. If the 
' upardar ' finds that the boy is watched, he closes one hand, 
turns the fist upwards and strikes the palm of the other, 
which means ' wait for further orders.' When the coast is 
clear, he brings his hands to his chest and gently raises one 
elbow, which means ( run away with it.' If the boy is detected 
after picking up an article, the ' upardar's ' hand is raised to the 
shoulder and the elbow brought downwards, which means 
' drop it and bolt.' If successful in the attempt and the 
question is what should be done with the stolen article, both 
hands are opened out, and one is made to pass below the other 
pointing to the ground indicating ' bury it.' If the elbow of 
one arm is raised and the other hand with the thumb turned 
outside moved across the waist, it signifies ' take possession 
of the waist-purse only from the clothes, etc., lying there' ; and 
so on ad infinitum. An ' upardar ' can thus communicate 
almost any order to a ' chawa ' by means of signals. 

If a ( nalband ' is thoroughly satisfied that the training 
he has given is complete, he starts out, usually after the rains 


in October or November (after the Dasht-ra), with a gang 
composed of ten or t \\vntv, half nf the number being usually 
youths and the other half men. Before leaving head-quarters 
with his gang, the ' nalband ' sends for a ' Jotishi ' or soothsayer, 
offers him sweetmeats, and asks him in what direction they 
should go, and what time would be most propitious for the start. 
The ' Jotishi ' consults his ' panchang ' or astrological almanac, 
and tells him when he should set forth, and which direction he 
should proceed in. There are no other particular ceremonies 
observed, or omens consulted, before the gang sallies forth. 
Some of the members are, however, usually advised to eat 
curd mixed with rice and jaggery, and others to eat betel, and 
some to have their clothes patched as directed by the 
soothsayer, all these observances tending to bring success to 
the expedition, and to defeat bad luck. 

Before starting on an expedition, a ' nalband ' makes ample 
provision for the wives and families of his party and arranges 
for their requirements pending the return of the gang which 
is usually in about eight months. If the ' nalband ' has not 
sufficient money himself, he gets it on loan from a Bania at 
the current rate of interest and keeps a careful account of all 
advances he makes. 

All being in readiness, the ' nalband ' appoints a place near 
the outskirts of the village where the gang meets. The gang is 
usually composed of one ' nalband,' one or two ' derawalas/ and 
some ' upardars ' and ' chawas.' If after all have assembled 
one of the members has forgotten anything or wishes to return 
to say a word to some one in his family, the rule is that he 
should, on no account, be allowed to return home, but must 
send for the article, or the person he wishes to speak to. The 
gang then proceeds in the direction indicated by the ' Jotishi/ 
selecting a locality in which they are not known. They then 
decide on a line of country for their operations and break up 
into batches of twos and threes as the case may be. The 
members of each batch, which consists of an ' upardar ' and 
one or two ' chawas/ then take tickets for a station just short 
of the place for which they are actually bound, while the 
' nalband/ accompanied by his ' derawalas/ alights at a pre- 
arranged spot and awaits the return of each batch of his party 
which by previous arrangement has to turn up within a given 
period, usually about fifteen days. 

Modus operandt. When three or four Chandrawedis find 
themselves in the midst of a thickly-crowded bazar, and they 



have decided on securing some particular property in the stall 
of a shop, two of the gang pretend to begin a violent quarrel 
in the vicinity, on which a crowd collects and the victim also 
goes up to see what is the matter. A ' chawa ' has already 
posted himself at a convenient spot and when the ' upardar ' 
sees that the victim's attention is thoroughly absorbed in the 
fight, he gives the signal and the ' chawa ' lifts and slips 
away with the article fixed upon. 

A common practice in a fair when there is always a big 
crowd and much commotion, is for an ' upardar ' and a 
' chawa' to visit, say, a sweetmeat or any other shop where 
there are several persons making purchases. The ' upardar ' 
waits till one of the buyers lays down the bundle to take out 
his money or spreads his handkerchief out to receive the sweets 
when he pushes close up to his side and signals to the ' chawa ' 
(perhaps, an innocent-looking little boy) who promptly clears 
away with the bundle. If the ' chawa ' is caught, the ' upardar ' 
comes up as one of the crowd and urges pity for the brat ; 
when, ten to one, the lad gets a slap or two and is let go and 
takes to his heels and soon passes out of sight, while the 
' upardar ' gradually ( dissolves ' with the crowd. 

Sometimes three or four Chandrawedis visit a bathing 
ghat where a number of pilgrims are bathing. Two or three 
Chandrawedis begin to bathe while one lurks about near by. 
The attention of the bathers is directed to something strange 
in the water by one of the Chandrawedis or a diversion is 
created in some other way which leads to a discussion. While 
this is going on, the ' upardar,' who is standing near by, 
pretends to take an active part in the conversation, while he is 
at the same time actually directing the movements of a 
' chawa ' who on the signal lifts and disappears with something 
valuable which had been left by one of the bathers on the 

Chandrawedis also disguise themselves as servants and 
take up employment in the houses of wealthy people. They 
soon win the confidence of their employers by a show of 
remarkable honesty, and so learn in which box the jewels and 
other valuables are kept when they rob their masters and 

Sometimes when the occupants of a house are away on a 
visit or a journey and the door is locked, a Chandrawedi turns 
up and makes believe he is either the owner or a near relative 


of the inmates. He opens the lock, enters the house, remains 
there for two or three days and ultimately vanishes with all that 
he can take away. By this ruse, Chandrawedis reap rich 
harvests when there is an epidemic of plague in the town. 

Occasionally a couple of Chandrawedis join a marriage 
party travelling by road from one large town to another. They 
proceed to cultivate the acquaintance of some rich person 
whom they select as being the most gullible of the lot and 
travel with the party for a few days. Early one morning, a 
Chandra wed i creeps up to his new acquaintance who is sound 
asleep and steals his bundle containing valuables. Before the 
party awake, the Chandrawedis have put several miles between 
themselves and their fellow travellers. 

The railway also receives their particular attention. A 
few Chandrawedis mix up with third class passengers in a 
station and sit down among them, when they substitute one of 
their own bundles, which contains nothing of value, for the 
bundle of a well-to-do passenger. They also travel by train 
and if they see a passenger sound asleep, pass his bundle 
over to another Chandrawedi in the next compartment in the 
same train. Sometimes a Chandrawedi disguises himself as 
a woman, and gets into a female compartment, and when he 
finds the women asleep, makes away with their bundles or 
removes valuables from their persons while the train is in 
motion between stations. 

While the ' upardars ' and ' chawas ' are carrying on their 
operations, the ' nalband ' halts, as already stated, at a 
prearranged place which is called ' band ' in the Chandrawedi 
language, and where he is free from suspicion and compara- 
tively safe. The ' derawala ' is the caterer for the gang and 
has to look after the pals, etc., while the ' nalband ' receives 
all the stolen property, and directs the movements of the 
gang. The several batches return to their camp on or before 
the date previously arranged with such loot as they have 
collected which is then weighed and roughly valued. Should 
any of the members not return within the appointed time, it is 
assumed that he has been arrested or that something unusual 
has happened. If the missing member has been arrested, 
the ' nalband ' never personally goes to his assistance but 
arranges to send money for his defence and liberation. 
Should the arrested person be convicted, the 'nalband' has 
to support his family until his release and return from jail. 


During one season's tour, a gang of Chandrawedis will 
visit several areas and usually return home towards the end 
of June or the middle of July, partly because fairs and 
marriages, etc., are not held during the rains and travelling is 
difficult, also to enable them to look after their cultivation. 
They do not cultivate much. Many of them purposely rent 
fields to keep up the appearance of cultivators, but do not 
till them although they pay the rent regularly. 

After a successful trip and on their return to head -quarters, 
the stolen property is either kept intact or is melted down, as 
best suits the convenience of the ' nalband ' ; and a day is 
fixed for its distribution. The village patwari and the Sonar 
of the gang are called in, the price of the loot is determined, 
and the division is made as follows : 

In addition to their respective shares, 15 per cent, is set 
aside for the ' upardars ' and ' chawas.' 

The patwari receives Re. i from each batch of three or 
four men of which the whole party was composed. 

The Sonar gets Re. i in the same way, i.e., if the gang of 
twenty had divided up into parties of fours, the Sonar would 
get Rs. 5. 

Rs. 5 is given by each set in charity to the village temple 
for the annual ' Navaratri ' sacrifice. The balance is then 
divided up into equal shares, except that the ' nalband ' gets 
two shares, and the remaining members, one share each. 

The ' Jotishi,' too, comes in for a reward if his prophecies 
have proved reliable. 

If any member does not wish to take his share in actual 
property but prefers ready-cash, the ' nalband ' has the option 
of buying it up at a reduced rate, say, gold is Rs. 24 a tola, 
the ' nalband ' will purchase it at Rs. 20 a tola. 

Chandrawedis in the Indore State. It is difficult to 
ascertain when these people actually migrated from Raruwa, 
the birthplace of ( Chandra wedism,' and came into this State; 
but it is said that they have been in the following villages of 
the Alamput pergana for several generations : 

(1) Salon. (5) Hasanpur. 

(2) Bhitari. (6) Kadura. 

(3) Barka. (7) Nowgaon. 

(4) Khuja. 


There are 327 adult male Chandrawedis at the present 
time in these seven villages which have been recruited from 
the following castes : 

(1) Kirars. (6) Brahmin (chiefly 

(2) Kachhis. Sanoriyas). 

(3) Kayastha. (7) Ahirs. 

(4) Kalals. (8) Gaderias. 

(5) Khangars. (9) Vadhias, etc. 

Kirars and Sanoria Brahmins predominate. 

Although Chandrawedis by profession, each member 
strictly adheres to his caste, and there is no intermarriage 
between castes. When, however, there is a marriage, all the 
Chandrawedis participate in it. Cultivation is also followed 
to a certain extent by those who remain at home, who also 
work as day-labourers this tends to divert suspicion. 

The Chandrawedis have regular ' receivers ' of stolen 
property in each of their own and other villages : the stolen 
property is taken by these ' receivers ' for disposal to 
Bombay and Jhansi, also to Datia and other States of 

Chandrawedis during their operations travel anywhere and 
everywhere, Bombay, Poona, Bhavnagar, Kathiawar, Ajmer, 
Jodhpur, the Panjab, the United Provinces, all the States of 
Central India, and other places of importance. They do not 
appear so far to have ventured into Southern India. It is 
reported that a tax of Rs. 8 to Rs. i6per Chandrawedi is levied 
by the petty local officials, no receipts, it need hardly be said, 
being given for the payments. This is doubtless why the 
Chandrawedis have been having so easy a time of it for many 
years, and their operations have not been made public. 

To look at, a Chandrawedi is like any ordinary native, 
but they will know each other by sight or can easily identify 
one of their profession by means of their secret codes. It 
must, however, be added to his credit, that a Chandrawedi 
never goes out armed, nor does he ever commit violent crime. 
Stealing by night he considers an unpardonable sin, as he 
glories in the fact that his art enables him to accomplish it in 
broad daylight. Moreover, they never offer violence to any- 
body, nor have they any cause to, as their methods of stealing 
obviate the necessity for it. Gunthorpe in his " Hand-book on 
Criminal Tribes " has described the habits of the Sanoriya 
and it is obvious that they are the same as those of the 


Chandrawedis : 'Sanoriya ' is, however, a very old name while 
' Chandra wedi ' is a comparatively modern one. These facts, 
combined with the Chandrawedi version of their origin, make 
it probable that the two Sanoriyas, Ramlal and Madan Prasad, 
drifted down to Raruwa some fifty years ago, and that it is 
from their disciples that the Chandrawedi confraternity has 
sprung. In other words, Chandrawedism is an offshoot of the 
Sanoriya tree. Another explanation is that ' Chandrawedi ' 
and ' Sanoria ' are synonymous terms, being merely different 
names for the same society, much as the Kanjars of the 
country round Agra are the same as the Berias or Baghorias 
of Central India. This view is supported by the fact that the 
Sanorias, though they claim to be true Brahmins of the 
Sanadh or Sanaurehya section, are only spurious Brahmins, 
seeing that they originally were, and I believe still are, recruited 
as children from almost any Hindu caste. I believe, however, 
that though for practical purposes Sanoryas and Chandrawedis 
are much the same, still it is only the Brahmins, real or 
assumed, among them who are Sanoriyas, while all the rest 
who adhere to their respective castes come solely under the 
classification of Chandrawedis. Thus a Sanoriya can be 
classed as a Chandrawedi, but a Chandrawedi cannot be 
classed as a Sanoriya. 


INDORE : Inspector General of Police, 

Dated i6th February 1906. Indore State. 

B 514. 2O 


Another account of this tribe was given by Mr. A. C. 
Hankin, C. I. K., Inspector-General of Police and Prisons 
in H. H. the Nizam's Dominions, when Superintendent of 
Dacoity Operations, Bundelkhand, Central India, in 1893,111 
a letter addressed to the General Superintendent of Operations 
for the Suppression of Thagi and Dacoity, Calcutta, and as 
the particulars given are instructive and some are not to be 
found in Mr. Seagrim's account, the letter is reproduced for 
general information. 

In the year 1867 or thereabouts I believe an enquiry was 
made through the Thagi and Dacoity Department regarding 
the professional thieves known as ' Sonarias ' or ' Chandr- 
behdis, ' with what result I do not know ; but in that same 
year a special enquiry was made by Mr. Ross Knyvett, 
District Superintendent of Police, Lalitpur, and also by Captain 
Kincaid, Assistant Political Agent, Bundelkhand, whose reports 
were forwarded to the Government of India in the Foreign 
Department. Their enquiries were confined chiefly, I believe, 
to British India, and Tehri or Orcha, a Native State in 

These Sonarias are, I believe, a registered class of criminals 
in the North-Western Provinces, but not in the Central 
Provinces. In the Native States they were ordered to be settled 
down and no doubt a great many of them have settled down 
and taken to cultivation ; but during my recent tour in the Datia 
State of Bundelkhand and the Alampur parganah of Indore, 
I have come to learn that the Darbars do not exercise such 
a strict surveillence over the movements of these people as 
they are expected to do, or as much as they would have one 
believe they do. From enquiries I find that some hundreds 
of these men are now absent from their homes on thieving 
expeditions : they are scattered over the length and breadth 
of India, visiting all the large fairs. A very large gathering of 
them is expected at the coming ' Magh Mela ' to be held in 
Allahabad. The majority of those now absent will not return 
home till just before the rains, when they will return in shoals, 
with the proceeds of eight months' ' loot. ' 

I have managed to get hold of some of them who are 
willing to turn ' informers, ' and it is with the object of employing 


some of them that I now address you. The North-Western 
Provinces Police and the Central Provinces Police would no 
doubt like to employ some of them. The Railway Police too 
could make great use of these men. Those who return home 
by rail will alight at Gwalior, Sonagir, and Moth on the Indian 
Midland Railway ; those who come by road, bringing their 
' loot ' on ponies and camels, will pass chiefly through Native 
States, crossing the Amola Chandaoni Ghot in Gwalior. 
These are the chief places near here. They also alight at 
Agra and Ajmere. 

The castes that leave this part are Brahmins, Kirars, 
Kangars, Kachis, and Ahirs ; some of these men accompanied 
the last Kabul Expedition (not the Durand Mission). I merely 
mention this to show what a distance they go. 

These ' thugs ' or Chandrbehdis, as they are called, all 
pay so much a head before they start on their expeditions. 
The rates this year vary from Rs. 4 to 7, and is collected by 
a special officer. Whether these amounts reach the State 
treasuries or not, I am unable to say. I should hope not. 
The probabilities are they do not, but are waylaid as the 
' huq ' of some superior officials. Be this as it may, the men 
are under the impression that it is collected for the Darbar. 

On their return they are bound by oath in some States to 
present as a nazar anything of very great value, such as 
stones, valuable rings set with diamonds ; in others, they keep 
all they can get, only paying the usual tax. 

They leave generally after the Devali and Dessera after 
doing pooja. 

My informers estimate roughly that some 600 or 700 men 
are now out from these parts Datia, Alampur, and this side 
of Gwalior. 

They have ' thangs ' or receiving houses all over India, 
the Banias being the chief offenders. 

These ' thugs ' or Chandrbehdis are very expert thieves 
and their tricks are no doubt well known to the police ; but I 
will give a few examples which may prove useful as well as 

They never commit thefts by night. 

Gangs vary from 2 to 15, and are headed by a man called 
' jaita ' or ' mookiah ' ; these always take two shares of the 
plunder ; each working member is called an ' oopardar,' and 
he has a boy attached to him who is called a ' chawa.' They 


do not work without these ' cha\v;is,' who are seldom over 
twelve years of age or under eight. 

The ' oopardars ' do the work of talking and engaging 
the attention of the persons to be looted, whilst the ' chawa ' 
watches his opportunity and runs off with the ' loot/ which he 
immediately hands over to another ' oopardar, ' who takes it 
to the halting spot, and there it is quickly buried. 

It sometimes happens that two gangs meet, and should 
one need the help of the other, they divide the spoil equally. 
They have signs by which they can recognise each other 

They are great in committing thefts on the railways. Two 
or three get into a railway carriage, and during the journey 
they manage to pass the stolen property from one to the 
other till the last one gets up and looks out of the window ; 
seizing this opportunity he flings the article or bundle out of 
the window and marks the spot by the number of telegraph 
posts to the station ; they then alight and wend their way back 
to pick up the ' loot.' 

They also mix themselves with passengers who are busy 
taking their tickets and watch any one who puts any parcel or 
bundle down ; as soon as he does , the ' chawa ' is off with it and 
they walk to the next station where they take their own tickets. 

They also watch passengers getting, out at a station, one 
who has a lot of baggage ; and after he has taken out 4 or 5, 
and re-enters the carriage for another parcel, the ' chawa ' 
whips off one of the 4 or 5. By the time the passenger collects 
and counts his things, his parcel has passed through several 

When working in the streets and bazars they select a 
high caste well-to-do looking man, and a ' chawa ' passing 
by manages to rub some filth on his clothes with a stick ; a 
friendly ' oopardar ' goes up to the man and tells him that he 
did not make a very careful selection of the spot where he 
last sat, and that he ought to wash his clothes at once. The 
man at once makes for the nearest well, tank or stream, and 
there proceeds to wash. The ' oopardar ' also goes to wash 
his face and clean his teeth ; meanwhile the ever-present 
' chawa ' whips off with the man's ' busni ' (purse). 

Another dodge is for an ' oopardar ' to select a likely 
looking individual, and get into conversation with him. A 
second ' oopardar ' brushes past the two, nearly knocking 


them down. He is at once sworn at for his clumsiness and 
he craves pardon, saying he is only a poor sweeper and meant 
no harm. At the sound of the word ' sweeper,' the ' oopardar ' 
and his companion make off to wash, and at the washing place 
the ' chawa ' performs his part of the trade by walking off with 
the ' busni.' 

At bathing ghats and river-side they watch for men who 
go to bathe leaving their wives or mothers in charge of their 
valuables. As soon as they spot such a woman, an ' oopardar ' 
will sit down in front of her to ease himself. She at once turns 
her head to look the other way, and in slips the ' chawa ' and 
is off with anything he can lay hands on. They watch Banias' 
shops, and whilst the Bania is haggling with the ' bypari/ the 
' chawa ' walks off with the bag of cash. 

The Alampur ' thugs ' have changed their name to ' Teerat- 
bashis. ' 

The Gwalior and Datia ' thugs ' call themselves ' Chandr- 
behdis,' which I believe really means those that will not offend 
by night or under the light of the moon ; they will not commit 
a theft at night for anything ; they think it unlucky. 

Towards Neemuch, I believe, they go by the name of 
' Byparis.' 

In the North-Western Provinces and Native State of 
Orchha and Central Provinces they are better known as 
' Sonarias.' In former days only Brahmins belonged to this 
class, but it is now common to other castes. They are very 
clever at whipping things out of tents, dodging the sentries in 
a very clever but simple way. 

The following vocabulary may prove useful if not already 
known : 

a shawl ... ... ... beenjila. 

a lotah ... ... ... peani. 

a gun ... ... ... bharakni. 

a sword ... ... ... dharaie. 

a bundle ... ... ... kutaria. 

a box ... ... ... chirayia. 

a blanket ... ... ... rungatiao. 

a purse ... ... ... bagori. 

a pearl ... ... ... mijna. 

a coral ... ... ... lalpa. 

gold ... ... ... siand. 

silver ... ... ... ooban. 

copper pice ... . , ... daure. 

a man ... ... ... nimtha. 

a woman ... sainti. 

3 io 


a prostitute ... 

a boy 

a -id 

















policeman . . . 










a dog 

to bury property 

to sell property 

a boy chawa is caught 

a stick 

a thali 




g.-imaic and killaie. 

puncl phuttoo. 


























reh karei. 





They worship the goddess ' Devi.' They perform the 
' Sath Narayan-ki-Katha ' ceremony, or in other words, distri- 
bute part of the proceeds in charity. This is done by all 
dacoits and professionals. 

If any of these men are caught in Native States and put 
into jail, they refuse to eat, and plead that they are poor Brah- 
mins and feign dying, and thus often get out of jail. 

I have no doubt that most of what I have stated is stale 
news to most District Superintendents of Police, but perhaps 
all do not know where to trace these men to, as I know from 
experience that they seldom or ever give correct names and 


The following villages in Datia contain these gentlemen, 
some in small, others in large numbers: (i) Rarwa, (2) 
Parari, (3) Amaoli, (4) Mahona, (5) Rohoni, (6) Bagpura, 
(7) Cheena, (8) Digwa, (9) Bhagwapura, (10) Rampura, 
(n) Marseni, (12) Chamgan, (13) Katonda, (14) Eongri, 
(15) Jaroli, (16) Murgawan, (17) Katapur, (18) Unchio, (19) 
Korelta, (20) Rajora. 

In Indore State, Alampur pargana (i) Salaon, (2) Bhitari, 
(3) Burko, (4) Khuja, (5) Hussanpur. 

In Gwalior bordering Datia, Indore (i) Gondari, (2) 
Maithano, (3) Imilia, (4) Sora in the Daboh pargana. 



Extract from the United Provinces Criminal Intelligence 
Gazette, dated ist August 1906. 

Allahabad, August ist. A reference to this office was 
made by the Criminal Investigation Department, Simla, regard- 
ing a class of criminals known as ' Nowsarias.' It had been 
noted that their modus operandi was similar to that of Sonorias 
and Chandrawedis. 

This is apparently not so : the latter are addicted to the 
crimes of ' picking pockets ' and of shop-lifting,' both of which 
offences are known in this country as ' uthaigiri. ' 

The ' Sonorias ' and the ' Chandrawedis ' are not a caste, 
but a fraternity. 

The ' Nowsarias,' however, cannot be classed in this way. 
They are merely called Nowsarias because of their pursuit. 
They are primarily card-sharpers, and the particular game 
which they affect is that known as ' nausars? 

1 Nausar,' and for that reason they are called ' Nausarbaz ' 
or ' Nausaria.' The game is played with an ordinary pack of 
cards. Hands consist of three cards, and the highest hand 
that can be held is three aces, which is known as nausar from 
the fact that the holder of that hand receives nine times the 
value of stakes from the other players. 

There are two other hands known as sesar and dusar 
which entitle the holders to three times and twice their stakes. 

Incidentally, in order to attract players of means, one of 
the party is frequently dressed as a ' nawab ' and stories are 
circulated by the rest of the party as to his wealth and his 
fondness for gambling. When they have succeeded in collect- 
ing a number of players, they play nausar ^ or possibly some 
other game, and it is found that the strangers always lose. 
From this habit of personating a ' nawab ' it has been thought 
that ' nowsara ' is a form of cheating by such personation, and 
not merely of cheating ,at cards. 



The following is a useful note called from the Special 
Supplement to the PanjAb Police Gazette dated i8th January 
1907, and the Supplement to the Panjdb Police Gazette dated 
9th August 1905, on Bhatras. 

Note on Bhatras, dated the ^th August 1904, by W. A. Gayer, Esq., 
Assistant to the Inspector-General of Police, His Highness the 
Nizam 's Dominions, Hyderabad. 

Bhatras are a small tribe of swindlers who have settled 
themselves in Sialkot district of the Panjab. They are said to 
have come originally from Ceylon and have since divided into 
two sects the Mona Bhatras and the Sikh Bhatras. 

The Mona Bhatras claim to be Brahmans, wear the sacred 
thread, and observe all the ceremonies of the Sanatan Hindus, 
but are looked down on by orthodox Brahmans because of 
their practice of collecting charity at the times of eclipse, when 
only the lowest classes of beggars are supposed to do so. 

The Sikh Bhatras eat goat's flesh and observe the Sikh 
custom of killing the animal to be eaten with one stroke of a 
sword : otherwise they follow the tenets of the Mona, except 
that they do not wear the sacred thread. They wear their hair 
long like other Sikhs, but preserve to themselves the right to cut 
it and shave, if this should be necessary for purposes of disguise. 
This reservation is probably a privilege self assumed to meet 
the necessities of the swindling profession to which they belong. 

In their own district the conduct of the Bhatras is most 
circumspect. They have, I believe, never been caught steal- 
ing or taking part in any of the more exciting classes of crime 
against property, nor do they carry on their swindling practices 
in or near their own district. Probably with the object of 
outwardly appearing what they profess to be, merely beggars 
and fortune-tellers, Bhatras live in their own villages in the 
most squalid style, several living together crowded into a room 
which would barely hold two in even such slight comfort as is 
ordinarily desired by the poorest classes of native society. 
They can, therefore, once safely home, defy the police to touch 

314 Al'l'l.MHX VII. 

them under Chapter VIII of the Criminal Procedure Code, 
and live in perfect security and spend their money on drink 
and in gambling, the chief vices to which they are addicted. 

The particular form of swindling adopted by Bhatras is col- 
lecting sums of money for charities and appropriating what they 
obtain. They are great adepts at disguise and travel as Sanyasi 
or Udasi Fakirs, Bairagis, Sikhs, Brahmans, etc., and professing 
to be delegates from certain temples, schools, hospitals or other 
charitable institutions, collect subscriptions fr9m sympathizers. 
They have lists on which donors enter their names and the 
amounts subscribed, and as they obtain well-known names so 
their lists become more valuable, as such names lend to them 
a sort of guarantee of good faith, and often quite large sums 
are secured from rich and religiously-minded zamindars. The 
individual sums collected are, however, generally small and 
being so are the more safely taken, as the subscriber of a small 
sum is far less likely to enquire into its safe arrival at its des- 
tination than would be the giver of a liberal contribution. 
That these small sums amount to a considerable total, however, 
is shown by the fact that four out of a gang of five Bhatras 
were arrested in Bengal on suspicion and searched, money- 
order receipts to the amount of Rs. 1,61 1 being discovered on 
them, these dated from 1900 to May 1904, and as they had 
been despatched from Bombay, Central Provinces, Bengal and 
Assam, it would seem that during that time these men must 
have spent much on travelling and on themselves, so this 
amount, merely representing profits, must have been only a 
small portion of the sums actually made. At the time the 
District Superintendent of Police, Sialkot, was communicated 
with, and reported 450 members of this tribe as absent from 
their homes ; if all these have been equally successful, at a 
rough estimate that we could put down their profits only at 
well over a quarter of a lakh cf rupees a year. 

Before a gang starts on tour, the members are said to 
appoint a chaudri to whom all communications are addressed 
and all money-orders sent. This however is doubtful, as the 
money-orders found in the above case were all addressed to 
various members of the family of the head of the gang, and on 
one or two occasions to outside persons to whom money was 
owed. The head-man of this gang was about sixty years of 
age, and the youngest member a lad of twelve, showing that 
Bhatras begin young and work to a good age. 


The chief villages in which these Bhatras reside are 

(1) Daska (new and old), tehsil Daska, Sialkot. 

(2) Ghalotian (Kalan), tehsil Daska, Sialkot. 

(3) Bhandewal, tehsil Daska, Sialkot. 

(4) Kampur, near Badoka, tehsil Daska, Sialkot 

(5) Two small villages near Narowal, tehsil Daska, 


(6) Dhariwal Suraj, tehsil Raya, Sialkot. 

A few members of the sect are said to have settled in 
Hyderabad (Sind), Surat, Karachi, and other places in that 
vicinity. They are also said to be settling in Amritsar, Multdn 
and Hardwar, and some are said to have settled in Southern 
India. Their chief shrine, and one to which all Bhatras 
subscribe liberally, is at Bhadowall in Sialkot. 

Their field for wandering is practically unlimited, as they are 
said to have paid visit at times to Kabul, Persia, Baluchistan, 
Ceylon and Burma, and are known to travel over the whole of 
India. They are said to be excessively good at picking up 
languages and so to have little trouble wherever they go. 

I would propose that this note be sent to the District 
Superintendent of Police, Sialkot, for verification and such 
further details as he may be able to supply. 

Note on Bhatras by A. C. Stewart, Esq., District ^^Superin- 
tendent of Police, Sialkot. 

( i ) In the Mahabharat and Sang has an Batisi it is recorded 
that one Madho Nal, a Brahman Rishi, 

Origin and arrival in India. ,, ' . . 

who was well versed in singing and 

poetry, fell in love with and married a dancing girl named Kam 
Kundala. From these two persons are descended the tribe of 
Madhwas commonly known as Bhatras. Maharaja Ranjit 
Singh, when exempting the tribe from tirni or taxation 
refers to them as Madhwas, descendants of Madho, as can be 
proved by an original parwana dated 7th Assuj, Sambat 1866, 
to his governors, which is still in the possession of one Pirthi 
Das, Bhatra of Dhariwal. The term ' Bhatra ' is a diminutive 
of the Sanskrit word bhat, a poet, and has been applied to the 
tribe because Madho was himself fond of quoting poetry. 

Madho was born and lived all his life in Ceylon, and there 
is no evidence of any of his descendants immigrating into India 
before the time of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. In 


the reign of Babar, Guru Nanak visited Ceylon, and there 
became acquainted with Changa, an influential Madho or Bhatra, 
who became his disciple. It is recorded in the Ad Granth 
that Changa's followers were so many that twenty maunds of 
salt were consumed daily with their meals. Large numbers of 
Bhatras were converted to Sikhism, and when Guru Nanak 
returned to India they accompanied him. A Sikh temple 
known as Dera Baba was built in Ceylon in memory of Guru 
Nanak, and the place where this temple is erected is the original 
home of the Bhatras, who are now domiciled in India. 

(2) The Bhatras are divided into 22 clans, of which 13 
.. . reside in the Sialkot District, and are 

Tribal sub-divisions. , ,-,, . . _ . . 

known as Bhotiwal, Lande, Digwa, 

Gamee, Kag, Lohi, Bhotti, Gojra, Rathaur, Kasha, Rod, 
Bhains and Lar. 

(3) The tribe first settled in (i) the Bijnaur District (United 
Provinces) on the banks of Ganges, (2) the Hoshidrpur District 
(Panjdb), (3) the Sialkot District (Panjdb), but they have 
since dispersed in all directions, and large number of Bhatras 
are now reported to be settled in Calcutta, Howrah, Shikdrpur, 
Hyderabad (Sind), Karachi, Quetta, Rohri, Bhakkar, Peshd- 
war, Rawalpindi, Multdn, Delhi, Talagang, Tarn Taran, 
Tibar (Gurddspur District), Rahon (Jalandhar District), and 
Gungroli (Ludhidna District). 

(4) It is stated that there are some 40 villages of Bhatras 
along the ftanks of the Ganges, chiefly in that part 'of the 
Bijnaur District known as Dadra Des, the best known of 
which are Padli, Aldaur, Bassera, Lipkee, Narangli and 
Nurpur. Many of the Bhatras of these villages are Banjaras 
(pedlars) who wander far and wide selling worthless articles 
required by women for ornamental purposes. Others are 
vendors of so-called Vedic medicines. A not uncommon 
practice is to obtain a written and stamped agreement from a 
gullible sufferer that if he recovers he will pay Rs. 50 or so. 
The chief hunting grounds of the Bijnaur District Bhatras are 
the large towns and cities on the banks of the sacred rivers 
Jumna and the Ganges, especially at the time of eclipse and 
other religious fairs, when Hindus give alms liberally : but like 
other Bhatras they wander practically all over India. 

(5) The chief Bhatra villages of the Hoshidrpur District 
are Pachnangli, Baba Kalu, Bassi Bhai Mallo, Bassi Wazir, 
Dhagaon, Gori and Kot. With few exceptions the Bhatras of 
the Hoshidrpur District are all true Sikhs, but the children 



under 12 shave their heads. They pose as magicians and 
pretend by looking into a cup of oil to foretell the future, and 
chiefly frequent the Kangra District. 

(6) Bhatras in the Sialkot District are located in eleven 
villages as below: 


Police-station jurisdiction. 



Kot Daska 


Daska ' . . . 


Daska Kalan 


Do. ... 

2 4 I 



Do. ... 


Nikka Kaila ...'Do. 

Do. ... 


Korpur .. Samberial 

Do. ... 

3 2 

Galotian Kalan ... Dharamkot 

Do. ... 


Dhariwal ... Talwandi Bhindran ... 


33 2 

















Total number of Bhatras ... 

i, 860 

They may be divided roughly into two parts, (a) those 
residing in Kot Daska, Daska Kalan, Bhadewala, Nikka Kaila, 
Korpur, Galotian Kalan, (b) Dhariwal, Saraj, Gota, Sarjapur, 
Dadian. The former (a) are true Sikhs and observe all the 
Sikh customs. They do not take false names when on tour, 
though often they wear the garb of Gurus, or rather Akalis 
and pose as Nihangs. The Bhatras of Galotian and Bhade- 
wala however have lately shown a tendency to disguise them- 
selves as Bairagi Sadhus. 

The latter (b) are not orthodox Sikhs in so much as they 
are nearly all smokers and jata-dharis (wearers of long 
matted hair). When on tour they call themselves Das instead 
of Singh, wear langotis, cover their heads and bodies with 
ashes, carry iron tongs and behave as Udyasi fakirs. Whilst 
all are swindlers living on their wits, those shown under (a) 
chiefly practise astrology, and such like, and thus prey on the 
credulity of their victims. Those classed under (b) pose as 
delegates of certain temples and chelas of mahants and collect 
subscriptions from pious Hindus. 

A form of deception which is peculiar to, and practised 
only by, some Bhatras of Daska is to make an indelible mark 
round the neck, and call themselves Husniui Brahmans. 


These men recite the genealogy and martyrdom of Husain and 
collect alms from Muhammadans. The origin of this custom 
emanated from a legend that a Brahman recovered the head 
of Husain from some kaffirs who had carried it off by 
substituting the head of his own son for it. 

(7) Bhatras go on tour after the Deivali festival and 
return to their villages at the commencement of the rainy 
season. It may be said that all except the very young 
children and physically infirm males leave their villages. 
Sometimes, but not often, those classed under (a) are accom- 
panied by their wives, especially if they have daughters of a 
marriageable age. . It is stated that subscriptions are collected 
from gammdars for the marriage expenses and ceremonies of 
these latter ; but the chief forms of swindling of all have been 
correctly described by Mr. Gayer. As a rule Bhatras do not 
travel in gangs of more than half a dozen, but they apparently 
have pre-arranged rendezvous where they meet before finally 
returning home. The money they collect is remitted chiefly 
through the post office, but it is said that within the last year 
some of them have taken to making remittances by means of 
hundis. It is alleged they have many agents in Amritsar, 
and in this office Confidential Note on Bhatras dated i4th 
March 1904, mention of one Mussammat Bhudan of that city 
was made, through whom they sell clothes and other articles 
collected in their travels. 

(8) Out of a total of i ,860 male Bhatras over twelve years 
of age, residents of the Sialkot District, no less than 780 were 
found absent from their homes on or about 2oth October. Of 
these absentees, about half may be considered as having 
permanently emigrated to various places, but they are in close 
touch with their brethren in Sialkot, whom they frequently 

The amount of money collected by Bhatras on their travels 
is far larger than is generally imagined. An examination 
of the post office registers showed that 190 money-orders 
aggregating Rs. 7,516 were paid from ist. October 1903 to 
3oth September 1904 to Bhatras of Saraj, Gota, Sarjapurand 
Dadian only. I attach a detailed list of these money-orders, 
which is instructive as illustrating the enormous distances 
these people travel and the chief months in which they make 
collections of money. To realise the extent of these net 
profits it must be remembered that the total number of male 
Bhatras in these four villages over twelve years of age is only 



i 19, and as some of them were physically incapable of travel- 
ling, the average earnings of those actually on tour becomes 
very large indeed. And if the earnings of Bhatras in the 
remaining villages in Sialkot are calculated on the same scale, 
the money-order remittances only of the tribe are well over a 
lakh of rupees per annum. 

(9) As stated by Mr. Gayer, Bhatras when at home live 
in the most squalid style. They are inveterate gamblers and 
as a rule heavy drinkers, and all their earnings appear to be 
squandered in these vices. Thirty-five members of the tribes 
in Sialkot have been convicted, chiefly under Chapter XVII 
of the Indian Penal Code. About half of these convictions 
were obtained in outside districts. 

Bhatras of Sialkot with few exceptions neither understand 
cultivation nor possess land ; but the houses they occupy are 
their own property. 

List of money-orders distributed by Branch Post Office, Gota, to the 
Bhatras of Gota, Saraj, Sarjapur and Dadian, from ist October 
7903 to yoth September 

No. of 

Date of 

Office of issue. 

Name of remitter. 

Name and residence 
of payee. 




Rs. a. 


7 Oct. 

Amar Kot 

Nihal Singh , ... 

Buta Singh, Saraj 

24 o 




Nanak Singh ... 

Munshi Singh, Gota 

10 o 



Dehra Dun 

Hari Ram 

Mussammat Jando, Gota 

7 o 





Do. Hardevi, Gota 

7 o 


16 Nov. 


Bhag Singh 

Do. Malam, Gota 

5 o 


21 ,, 


Sohan Das 

Do. do. Sarjapu 

10 o 


23 ,, 


Sawan Singh .. 

Sant Ram, Saraj 

50 o 


23 ,, 


Budha Singh .. 

Nihala, Saraj 

24 o 




Ganga Singh .. 

Do. Saraj 

90 o 


23 ,, 



Dhanpat Rai, Saraj 

10 o 




Arur Singh 

Mussammat Nihali, Saraj 

25 o 


24 ,, 


Teja Singh 

Do. Jivan, Saraj 

35 o 




Bhag Singh 

Do. Malan, Gota 





Sundar Das 

Nihal Chand, Saraj 

50 o 




Ganga Das 

Do. Saraj 

. 100 O 



Sagar, Sadr B 



Mussammat Jivani, Gota 

25 o 





Lai Das 

Do. Budhan, Saraj 

-5 o 



Talhara (Akola 


Mohan Das 

Do. Malan, Saraj 

25 o 


i Dec. 


Bhagwan Das ... 

Do. Ati, Saraj 

. 400 o 


i >, 


Jawahir Singh ... 

Ganesh Das, Gota 

40 o 


3 ,, 


Sharu Das 

Mukand Das, Gota 

50 o 




Ganga Das ... 

Mussammat Jivan, Saraj 

. 125 o 


7 ,. 


Katasia Singh ... 

Do. Budhan,, Saraj 

12 12 


8 , 


Bhagwan Das ... 

Do. Ati, Saraj 

75 o 


9 , 



Do. Utmi, Saraj 

. 100 O 


12 . 


Ganga Das 

Do. Jivani, Gota 

37 o 


!2 i 


Lai Das 

Do. Budhan, Gota 

30 o 


14 , 


Ganda Das 

Do. Jivan, Saraj 

75 o 




No. of 

Date of 

Office of issue. 

Name of remitter. 

Name and residence 
of payee. 



Rs. a. 


15 Dec. 


Sonehra Singh... 

Pura Singh, Saraj 

35 o 


15 . 


Sadhu Das 

Nihal Chand, Saraj 

25 o 




Hardit Das 

Do. Saraj - 

150 o 


17 , 


Nand Das 

Mussammat Santo, Gota 

50 o 


21 , 


Sant Das 

Bura, Saraj 

25 o 


21 , 

Bara Bazar, Cal- 

Jawinda Singh ... 

Mussammat Bhagri, Saraj .. 

25 o 





Tehl Das 

Do. Bhagan, Saraj ... 

115 o 




Asa Das 

Do. Aso, Saraj 

25 o 


21 ,, 


Ganda Singh ... 

Do. Jivan, Saraj 

50 o 


21 , 


Sham Das 

Karm Singh, Dadian 

100 O 


22 , 


Mela Singh 

Gurmukh Singh, Saraj 

25 o 


23 - 


Hira Das 

Pindi Das, Saraj 

50 o 


3 , 


Ganga Singh ... 

Kama Singh, Saraj 



30 . 



Mussammat Premi, Gota 



30 . 


lawahir Singh ... 

Sardul Singh, Gota 

40 o 


31 - 


Damodhar Das . 

Mussammat Gangi, Gota 

25 o 



4 Jan. 


Ganga Das 

Mussammat Jivani, Gota 

60 o 


4 .. 


Nihal Das 

Do. Gangi, Gota 



4 .. 


Lai Singh 

Ganga Singh, Gota 

20 o 


5 M 


Bura Das 

Khera Das, Gota 

25 o 




Moti Das 

Mussammat Bhagwan Devi, 




7 M 


Bittu Singh 

Nihala, Saraj 

50 o 


8 ., 

Ras Road 

Bura Singh 

Utmi, Saraj 

28 o 




Habel Singh ... 

Mussammat Kishen Devi, 

40 o 





Buta Das 

Lochman Singh, Gota 

20 o 




Gopal Das 

Nihal Singh, Gota 

30 o 



8 ,. 


Ganda Das 

Nihalu, Saraj 

40 o 


8 ,. 


Jia Das 

Lochman Singh, Gota 

50 o 



Ras Road ... 

Badhawa Singh . 

Mussammat Budhan, Saraj ... 

18 o 


1 1 ,. 



Do. Mango, Saraj ... 

30 o 




Sohan Singh ... 

Do. Nidhana, Saraj ... 



13 ,. 


Amta Singh 

Sardul Singh, Gota 

23 o 


! 3 ,, 


Gorf Das 

Wadhawa Singh, Saraj 





Jiwan Singh 

Mussammat Ati, Saraj 

95 o 


14 ,, 


Katha Singh ... 

Pindi Das, Saraj 

38 o 


'3 , 


John Singh 

Wadhawa Singh, Saraj 



18 , 

Ras Road 

Sohan Singh ... 

Bhagwan Das, Saraj 

25 o 




Sant Das 

Pindi Das, Saraj 



20 , 


Diwan Singh ... 

Mussammat Chandan, Saraj... 

12 O 


2 5 . 

Ras Road 

Nand Singh 

Do. Santo, Gota 

25 o 


26 , 


Sham Das 

Sham Das, Saraj 

22 O 


26 . 


Ganda Singh ... 

Mussammat Budhan, Saraj ... 

25 o 





Do. Kirpa Devi, Saraj. 

25 o 


26 , 


Mathra Das 

Do. Bhagan, Saraj ... 

125 o 


27 , 

Chandak (Mad- 

Ganga Singh ... 

Karam Chand, Saraj 




27 , 



Mussammat Jivan, Gota 

29 o 


27 , 

Sujanpur Tera . 

Khushala Singh . 

Do. Aso, Saraj 

30 o 


29 , 

Barly (Monim- 

Baga Singh 

Ganga Ram, Gota 

25 o 





Nowak Singh ... 

Munshi Ram, Gota 

25 o 


2 Feb. 


Wadhawa Singh . 

Mussammat Ati, Saraj 

20 o 




Sham Singh 

Karm Singh, Gota 

35 > 



Raegaon (Akola) 

Wadhawa Das... 

Nihala, Saraj 

55 " 


6 , 

Do. do. . 

Ganga Das 

Divan Singh, Saraj 

25 o 


6 , 

Do. do. . 

Kala Singh 

Munshi Singh, Gota 

32 c 



No. of 

Date of 

Office of issue. 

Name of remitter 

Name and residence 




of payee. 



Rs. a. 


8 Feb. 


Hira Das 

Pindi Das, Saraj 

50 o 




Gurdial Singh ... 

Mussammat Ati, Saraj 

75 o 



-. Do. 

Kala Singh 

Sant Singh, Saraj 

20 o 



Tanda Wall Mu- 

Garja Singh 

Mussammat Ishri, Saraj 

14 o 

hammad Khan. 




Nihal Singh 

Do. Budhan, Saraj .. 

25 o 


12 ,, 


Ganda Das 

Do. Jivan, Saraj 



13 ,, 

H owrah 

Jawahri Das ... 

Sardul Singh, Gota 

60 o 


I I 

Shah Kot 

Mangh Singh ... 

Mussammat Budhan, Saraj ... 

12 8 




Jiwan Das 

Do. Ati, Saraj 





Garib Das 

Man Singh, Gota 





Katha Singh ... 

Pindi Das, Saraj 





Radha Sham ... 

Gurmukh Das, Saraj 

5 o 





Do. Saraj 

25 o 

60 1 



Ganga Das 

Divan Singh, Saraj 

34 o 




Ditta Singh ... 

Nihala, Saraj 

40 o 




Nihal Singh and 

Nihala Shah, Saraj 

25 o 

Tirath Singh. 




Dial Das 

Mussammat Gangi, Gota 

60 o 




Natha Das 

Dhanpat (Sahukar), Saraj 

60 o 


22 ,, 


Sukhu Das 

Nihala, Saraj 

60 o 




Nihal Singh ... 

Buta Singh, Saraj 

30 o 



H owrah 

Sawan Singh ... 

Mussammat Bhagwan Devi 

5 o 




Bara Bazar 

Wadhawa Das 

Khera Das, Gota 



24 , 

Ras Road 

Jivan Das 

Mussammat Bhagan, Saraj ... 

28 o 


26 , 

Baij Nath 


Do. Budhi, Saraj ... 



26 , 


Lai Singh 

Jai Kishen, Gota 

12 O 


26 , 


Asa Das 

Mussammat Aso, Saraj 

25 o 


29 , 


Lai Singh 

Karm Singh, Gota 

25 o 


i Mar. 


Nanak Singh ... 

Mussammat Tabo, Gota 

25 o 



Daropka (Kang- 

Atma Das 

Do. Murmi, Dadian ... 

35 o 




Do. do. . 


Do. do. Dadian ... 

33 8 


3 ,, 


Kalo Singh 

Do. do. Dadian ... 



7 ,, 

Pinda Khar 

Sant Das 

Pindi Das, Saraj 

56 o 



Gulberga . . 

Ganga Singh ... 

Karm Chand, Saraj 




Etawah . . 

Sunder Singh ... 

Mussammat Ati, Saraj 

25 o 



Jubbulpore . . 

Ganga Das 

Do. Jivani, Gota 

'5 o 


10 ,, 

Aulukswar . . 

Lai Das 

Do. Premi, Saraj 

60 o 


n , 

Jawala Mukhi . . 


Do. do. Gota 

25 o 


ii , 

Surat . . 

Hira Das 

Nehal Chand, Saraj 

34 o 


U , 

Gurdaspur . . 


Mussammat Budhi, Saraj 



ii , 

Calcutta . . 

Jawahri Das 

Sardul Singh, Gota 

30 o 


12 , 

Jawala Mukhi ... 


Mussammat Premi, Gota 

5 o 


14 , 


Fakir Das (Udasi 

Do. Bhagan, Saraj ... 

60 o 




Collectorganj ... 

Natha Das 

Dhanpat, Saraj 

40 o 




Labhu Singh ... 

Mussammat Ishri, Saraj 

21 O 




Tehl Das 

Do. Bhagan, Saraj ... 

125 o 


14 ,, 


Haveli Das 

Do. Sidhi, Saraj 





Ganda Das 

Do. Ishri, Saraj 

23 o 



Azimganj (Mur- 

Jivan Das 

Do. Bhagan, Saraj ... 

37 o 



16 , 


I.ahna Das 

Lochman Singh, Gota 

50 o 



H owrah 

Ishar Singh 

Sadho Singh, Saraj 

50 o 




Sant Das 

Mussammat Mohandevi, Gota. 

26 o 



Rajabpur (Mura- 

Khushal Singh . 

Bakhshish Singh, Dadian 

35 o 





Ganda Das 

Mussammat Jivan, Saraj 

80 o 


21 ,, 

H owrah 


Pillar Sint;h, 

40 o 

B 51421 




No. of 

Date of 


Office of issue. 

Name of remitter. 

Name and residence 
of payee. 




R- .... 


23 Mar. 

Harda (Hoshan- 

Ganga Das 

Mussammat Jivan, Gota ... 10 o 






Dial Das ... Do. Gangi, Gota ... 20 o 


20 Harappa 

Mahan Das ... Do. Jamni, Dadian ... 20 o 


28 Rorian 

Hara Singh 

Do. Jiwan, Gota ... 14 o 


29 ; Hyderabad, 

Gujar Singh 

Dhanpat, Saraj ... 18 o 



29 ., 



Mussammat Ishri, Saraj ... 42 o 





Do. Ati, Saraj ... 40 o 




Sham Das 

Karam Singh, Gota 

50 o 


30 ,, 


Hokam Singh ... 

Karur Singh, Gota ...| 34 o 


3i -, 


Kaka Singh 

Mussammat Hari, Gota ...| 41 o 


i Apr. 



Do. Bhagan, Saraj ... 

39 o 




Karur Singh ... 

Buta, Saraj 

10 o 




Guru Das 

Man Singh, Gota, 

8 o 




Nand Singh 

Mussammat Santo, Gota 

25 o 



Bejnath (Kang- 


Do. Budhi, Saraj ... j 10 o 



4 ,, 


Nanak Singh ... 

Nihala (Sahukar), Saraj ... 20 o 




Hakam Singh ... 

Sarup Singh, Saraj ... 25 o 


'5 ,, 


Akar Das 

Asa Singh, Saraj .. 50 o 




Budha Das 

Mussammat Bhagan, Saraj ... 100 o 




Rudha Sam 

Gurmukh, Saraj ... 10 o 




Kaka Das 

Mussammat Moni, Gota ... 20 o 


'9 .. 


Buta Das 

Lochman Singh, Gota ... 19 8 





Mussammat Hari, Saraj ...' 45 o 


7 M 


Nihala Singh ... 

Do. Premi, Gota ... 25 o 




Kaka Das 

Do. Munni, Dadian 20 o 


7 .. 


Khushal Singh . 

Dhanpat Shah, Saraj ... 25 o 



Bhaggo (Simla) . 

Ladha Singh ... 

Pindi Shah, Saraj ... 2i o 


9 .. 

Polu (Lahore) ... 

Ishar Das 

Ram Kaur, Saraj ... 20 o 




Jawahri Das 

Sardul Singh, Gota ... 25 o 




Buta Das 

Lochman Singh, Gota ... 50 o 


'7 ,, 


Sant Ram 

Mussammat Budhi, Saraj ... 40 o 




Besakhi Das ... 

Do. Premi, Gota ... 12 o 


'9 ,, 


Bagga Das 

Ganda Singh, Gota ... 25 o 


21 .. 


Chet Das 

Sundar Das, Saraj ... 18 o 


2 3 -, 

Dadal (Kangra) . 

Sham Das 

Mussammat Khemo, Saraj ... 11 o 


23 -, 


Phaggu Ram ... 

Do. Bhagan, Saraj ... 25 o 


23 ., 


Butta Singh 

Do. Premi, Dadian ...' 20 o 




Mula Singh 

Karam Singh, Gota ... 10 o 


24 ., 

Lakhi Lara 

Wadhawa Das... 

Khera Das, Gota ... 20 o 




Asa Singh 

Mussammat Premi, Gota 

25 o 


25 ., 


Mangli Singh ... 

Do. Ishro, Saraj 

9 o 




Nihal Singh ... 
Buta Das 

Dhanpat Shah, Saraj 
Lochman Singh, Gota 

40 o 
25 o 


Kalupur (Adma- 

Moti Das 

Sur Das, Saraj 




1 ii 


Ganga Das 

Musammat Bhagwan Devi, 

50 o 



i ., 


Gurdit Singh ... 

Do do. 

50 o 


7 ,. 


Nihal Singh 

Mussammat Ishri, Saraj 

20 o 





Do. Ati, Saraj 

23 o 

Post Office. 




Haveli Singh ... 

Do. Aso, Saraj 

25 o 


'5 .. 


Chanda Singh ... 

Do. Jivani, Gota 

10 O 


15 Do- 

Ata Singh 

Puran Singh, Gota 

23 o 


28 Do. 

Asa Singh 

Gunga Singh, Gota 

8 o 


20 Aug. 


Nihal Das 

Sadhu, Saraj 


8 79 

1 5 Sept. 


Nanak Das 

Budhu, Saraj 

21 o 

Total ... 

7.516 4 


The mode of cheating adopted by these men is : 

First. They visit different residents (European and native) 
in every town they go to and pass themselves off as either 
fakirs, pandits, or fortune-tellers. They produce a two-fold 
sheet of paper upon which is the sketch of a cow or witch. 
This is drawn with a piece of alum, and cannot be noticed till 
such time as the paper is placed in water. Upon the paper 
being so placed, the figure of a cow or witch appears 
distinctly. If the figure of the witch should appear, the 
person about to be cheated is told that the witch was 
about to kill him, or her (as the case may be), but through 
witchcraft (mantar) they have removed the witch, otherwise 
death was certain. 

Secondly. Should the figure of a cow appear, they tell the 
person that some time or other he tortured a cow ; and that 
the cow is now cursing him. But having produced the cow's 
form or figure through magic, they have saved the person 

The person on seeing either of the figures appears to get 
quite timid, and seeing this opportunity, the cheat or swindler 
tells him that the only way to be saved is to make a donation 
either in gold, silver or clothes. At first they demand gold or 
silver, telling the person it is the best offering to make, but in 
the event of not being able to procure gold or silver they accept 

Another way in which they swindle the public is by 
carrying about a thin piece of iron which is similar in shape 
to a pair of fire-tongs (chimtas}. They visit the houses of 
Europeans and natives, and after interviewing their servants 
and ascertaining particulars regarding the occupants, they 
send word by the servants that a sacred fakir wishes to tell 
them their fortunes. On being admitted, the fakir places the 
iron tongs into water with some salt and other ingredients. 
As soon as the tongs are placed in the water, sparks fly out 
and the tongs separate. He then tells the individual con- 
cerned his fortune, particulars of which he had previously 
obtained from the servant. When the fakir finds he has 
charmed the ' looker-on,' he informs him that he has some 
girls to marry and is therefore in need of money and asks the 
persons to give something towards the subscription. 

The fakir further states he has opened an institution as 
an orphanage in his village where orphan children are fed, 
clothed and educated. The person hearing all this, and 
noticing the fakir's appearance, sympathises with him and 
gives him money, etc. 

Pans of Orissa. 

The following is an interesting report by Mr. R. Clarke, 
Superintendent of Police, Angul, on the Pans of Orissa, which 
appeared in the Extra Supplement to the Police Gazette of 
the Central Provinces dated 2yth June 1906. 

The Gurjat Pan, like his brother in the ' Mogulbandi,' is 
a semi-aborigine. He calls himself a Hindu and has 
caste rules, but Brahmans will have nothing to do with him, 
and he is in fact a pariah, imitating the Hindus in some ways 
and giving full rein to his aboriginal instincts in others. The 
word ' pan ' is a contraction of the Sanskrit ' parna ' and 
means a cave-dweller. 

The Pans form about 18 per cent, of the population of 
the Gurjats. In Angul they number 28,841, or roughly 
14 per cent, of the inhabitants. In Dhenkanal State they 
form 25 per cent., and in the other States their number varies 
between these figures. 

The majority of the tribe are landless, and those that 
hold lands are very indifferent cultivators, ever ready to mort- 
gage and sell their holdings, and incapable of tackling difficult 
or uncleared land. Even village chaukidars seldom cultivate 
their small jagir of five acres, the majority being leased out to 
their ' Chasa ' neighbours in blidg. 

The hereditary profession of the Pans is weaving, but 
this is only regularly followed by a very small section of the 
tribe. When cross-questioned, a Pan will invariably say, 
' I am a weaver,' but this means nothing, and sounds better 
than saying ' I am a thief/ which would be the truth. All 
Pans weave occasionally for their own wants, and they are 
kept in touch with their handicraft by pretty regular visits 
to jail. 

The Pans bear a very bad reputation among their neigh- 
bours ; in fact the worst form of abuse one can offer to a 
respectable man in the Gurjats is to call him a Pan. It is 
also very noticeable that though the Kotghur rules allow any 
Pan to be exempt who can get a respectable man to give a 
bond for him, in no case has this been done. Still in many 
ways these social outcasts sway the higher castes around 


them. They are pluckier, and therefore in request for 
services requiring personal courage. They do a certain 
amount of watch and ward. If a cartman is travelling at 
night he takes a few Pans with him. If a zemindar wants 
backing up in a land dispute, he hires Pans. In this way 
they are useful, and are therefore tolerated in spite of their 
evil ways. 

Theft is bred in the bone of the Gurjat Pan, but his 
evolution into a dangerous criminal belongs to the last twenty 
years, and is an interesting, if small, example of one of the 
problems of Indian Jail administration. In olden days the 
Pan was a cattle-lifter in neighbouring States, a cattle-poisoner 
in his own State, and a pilferer everywhere ; but he rarely 
committed burglary, and never dacoity ; of late years, equipped 
with the excellent criminal training which can now be obtained 
in a central jail, he has taken to gang dacoity with murder, 
and is, in the opinion of the writer, going to give serious 
trouble in the future, unless steps are taken to reorganize the 
police forces of the Gurjat States, which are at present useless. 
Crime marches with civilization, and when the Tributary 
States are more opened up and railways come, one may 
venture to predict that the Gurjat Pan will make every use of 
his chances. Possessed of the cunning of the Dom and the 
physique of the Bhur, he has qualities which these criminals 
lack. He is a positive lawyer in court ; it is very difficult to run 
a ' bad-livelihood ' case against him on account of his influence 
with his respectable neighbours, and, when cornered, he fights, 
so that it needs good up-country police to deal with him the 
very class that are not available in Orissa. The greatest 
mistake made up to the present in dealing with the Pans has 
been sending the long-term prisoners to the big central jails 
to mix with dangerous criminals, instead of keeping them at 
Cuttack, as was done formerly. These men stand out as 
leaders on their release, and all the Pan needs is a leader. 
Once organized into a gang the Native States police are quite 
incapable of dealing with them, and the lawlessness spreads 
to Angul, which borders on no less than seven States. This 
was what happened in 1902 with Nata Naik's gang. In 
October of that year a series of dacoities, two of them accom- 
panied with murder, were committed by a mixed gang of Angul 
and Hindole Pans in Angul, Talcherand Hindole. The princi- 
pal members of the gang were caught by the Angul police, and 
against four of them (i) Nata Naik, (2) Surendra Naik, (3) 
Haladhar Naik, (4) Nata Naik, junior a gang case success- 


fully instituted and they were transported. These four nu-n 
were as daring criminals as one could meet. They beat a 
Ilindole head constable to death on the main road, and tlu-v 
were only caught by the Angul police after a stand-up fight, in 
which two constables were very roughly handled. While they 
were at large, nobody would travel on the Cuttack and Sam- 
balpur road at night on account of the frequent cases of high- 
way robbery. This gang had hardly been broken up when 
the Khondmal Pans began to give serious trouble, and a large 
gang of them, under the leadership of one Kusun Digal, 
practically held up the Khondmals for nearly two years, -Mid 
were then only dealt with after a special police force had been 
sanctioned by Government for the purpose. Twenty-five 
members of this gang were eventually convicted to terms vary- 
ing from twenty years' transportation to three years' rigorous 
imprisonment, and six ' receivers' of stolen property were also 

After the exploits of Nata Naik's and Kusun Digal's 
gangs, it was decided that something must be done to control 
the Pans, so the Superintendent of Tributary Mahals sanction- 
ed a set of rules drawn up by the Deputy Commissioner and 
District Superintendent of Police, Angul, which had for their 

(i) The confining of all adult male Pans in each village 
in a single house (' kotghur ') at night, under the eye of the 
village headman, who records their attendance at 9 p. m. and 
6 a. m. in a register kept for the purpose, land-owners and any 
Pan who can get a respectable man to give a bond for him 
being exempt. The register is brought to the thana by the 
chaukiddr on parade days, and the names of all absent Pans 

(2) The granting of the tickets- of-leave to all registered 
Pans who leave their villages for any length of time. 

(3) The apprehension of strange Pans who come to a 
village without tickets. These men are sent to the thana with 
the chaukiddr and made to give an account of themselves. 

(4) The prosecution of Pans who absent themselves from 
the ' kotghur ' under section 109, Criminal Procedure Code, tin 
onus of proving that they have not been committing crime 
being on them. 

The rules have now been in force since 1903, and their 
effect as a check upon crime was immediate. In 1902 the 


average number of cases a month in Angul sub-division was 
33'o. In 1903 it fell to 30*7 and in 190410 17*3. In the 
Khondmals the effect of the rules is quite as marked, the 
figures being 

Average number of cases per month in 1902 ... i6'i 

1903 H'4 

1904 ... 8-0 

The Khonds took to the new system enthusiastically and 
during the harvest season they depute some of the villagers to 
patrol the 4 kotghurs ' in turn all night, as they say this is 
simpler than sending many men to watch the different fields. 
These good results continue in the Khondmals, crime having 
practically ceased in this tract, except on the border of Ganjam, 
where foreign criminals come in. In Angul the system is 
giving more trouble to work, because the Angul sarbarahkar 
(headman) is so unreliable, and is not infrequently a ' receiver ' 
of stolen property and in league with his Pans. The success 
or otherwise of the scheme depends entirely on the village 
headman, as the chaukidars, being themselves Pans, cannot be 
relied upon. The ' kotghur ' registers are inspected by superior 
police officers when on tour ; and headmen who are not writing 
up their registers or reporting absentees are sent to the Deputy 
Commissioner for punishment. A head constable has also 
been placed on special duty in Angul to supervise the working 
of ' kotghurs,' but an officer of this stamp is not suitable for 
such work. A sub-inspector should be placed on special duty, 
under the Angul and Khondmals Inspectors, for this work only, 
as it is essential that the headmen be kept up to the mark if 
the system is to be worked at all. 

Confining the Pans in beat houses at night is not a new 
idea in these parts, but a revival of an old custom of the 
Tributary States Rajas. It requires, however, constant and 
extensive supervision to be satisfactory, and should, if the 
effect is to be permanent, be worked in conjunction with some 
scheme for inducing the Pans to take to cultivation, the 
' kotghur ' rules being strictly enforced, and the test for allowing 
a Pan to absent himself being that he is cultivating land. So 
long as practically the whole of the Pans are landless they will 
give trouble, even supposing they are kept in order in normal 
years of good harvest when labour is plentiful ; they will 
assuredly go out of hand when there is scarcity. This was what 
happened in 1899-1900 in the Khondmals. Attached to every 
Khond village there is a small colony of Pans who perform 


menial service. They are practically serfs and as such are fed 
and supported by the Khonds. In 1899-1900, when the 
famine came, and the Khonds had less than enough for them- 
selves, they turned out the Pans, who immediately became 
wandering criminals, because a Pan will never patiently starve 
when he can steal. The Pans, however, are few in number in 
the Khondmals ; but supposing famine were to visit a State 
like Dhenkanal, where a quarter of the population are Pans, 
there is not the slightest doubt that crime would increase in the 
most alarming manner, not only in Dhenkanal itself, but also 
in Angul and Cuttack. No Government can afford to have 
one-fourth of its population landless criminals, living from 
hand to mouth, and the reclamation of the Gurjat Pan is one 
of the most important and pressing administrative problems 
in the Tributary States. 

Some years ago an attempt was made to start Pan settle- 
ments around Purnaghur, the then head-quarters of Angul. 
A certain amount of good land was acquired, and the Pans 
who were started upon it were supplied with ploughing cattle 
and a little money. The men selected were ' dagis ' who had 
never cultivated and were averse to cultivation, and during a 
season of drought, when the harvest was bad, they sold their 
cattle and bolted. The experiences of Dom settlements in 
Gorakhpur and Champaran do not incline one to favour 
schemes of the above description ; still Mr. Daly, the then 
District Superintendent of Police, Angul, has recorded his 
opinion that the settlements were a failure, through neglect of 
supervision, and that if the Pans had been helped a little 
through the first bad years they would have settled down to 
cultivation. The Pan has everything against him when he 
tries to cultivate, for though there is abundance of land, only 
absolutely uncleared land is available for him, as most of the 
Chasas in Angul have taken up far more land than they cul- 
tivate, owing to the very light assessments on newly acquired 
land in this district. There is also a considerable amount of 
procedure before the land is granted, which means attending 
court and tipping am/as which the Pan cannot afford to do. 
The Chasas also object to the Pans cultivating and do every- 
thing they can do to hinder them. The result is that only 
from two to five per cent, of Pans really earn their living by 
cultivation, an extraordinarily small proportion in an entirely 
agricultural country. 

It would pay Government and the Tributary States Rajas 
to be much more liberal with the Pans than they have been 


in the past. The Chasas might be made to disgorge most of 
the lightly assessed land, and the Pans settled on it with 
takdvi advances which Government were prepared to write off 
as lost. The success or otherwise of such a policy would 
probably depend on the officer who worked it, but it is at all 
events worth trying. The above remarks may seem some- 
what 'outside the province of a police report, but in reality it is 
not so, because practically all the crime in the Gurjats is 
committed by Pans, so, that settlement of the Pans and 
prevention of crime are more or less synonymous terms. 


The following account of the Haburas, taken from 
Crooke's " Tribes and Castes of the North- Western Provinces 
and Oudh," is reproduced from the Supplement to the Central 
Provinces Police Gazette dated 22nd November 1905. 

The Haburas are a vagrant thieving tribe, found chiefly 

Habura in the Central Ganges-Jumna Duab. 

They are connected with the regular 

gipsy tribes of Sansiya and Bhatu. They have a traditional 
connection with the old ruined city of Noh-Khera to the north 
of pargana Jelasar, in the Etah District, where they frequently 
make their way during the rainy season to arrange marriage 
and other caste matters in a series of general tribal councils. 

They claim their descent from the Chauhan Rajputs, 
who lived at Jartauli in the Aligarh 
triba ' District, and have a strong tribal 
council under a president who man- 
ages all caste business. 

They are usually exogamous, though in some sub-divisions 
. the only rule of exogamy is the 

1V1 irriscrc ^^ 

prohibition of marrying in their own 

camp or horde. Up to the recent times they used to recruit 
the clan by kidnapping girls of other castes, and there seems 
good reason to believe that they still introduce in the tribe 
outcast women of other castes. For a virgin bride the price 
fixed by tribal custom is Rs. 25 to be paid by the father of the 
bridegroom, who also pays the expenses of the marriage feast. 
The feeling against inter-tribal immorality is strong, and a 
seducer of a married woman has to pay Rs. 120 before 
being re-admitted to caste. Girls before marriage enjoy con- 
siderable freedom, and a departure from strict virtue is not 
seriously noticed. Generally speaking though the women are 
not particularly virtuous, they are not habitually prostituted by 
their male relatives as are the women of other gipsy tribes. 
Widows and divorced women are remarried and their offsprings 
are regarded legitimate. 

They both cremate and bury the dead. Those who can 
afford the cost of wood adopt the 

Death ceremonies. . 1,1 i 

former, and the rest either bury the 
corpse or expose it in the jungle. 



In religion they profess to be Hindus, but accept little or 
no service from the Brahmans. In 
some places when a boy reaches the 

age of twelve he is initiated before a Jogi and trained in 

In other places they worship Kali Bhawani. They observe 
the usual festivals Salono, Holi, Diwali, and Dasahara. 
They bathe in the Ganges in honour of the sacred dead. 

In Aligarh it is reported that they are almost omnivorous, 
but will not eat the flesh of cows or 

Social status and occupation. . . _. . f . 

donkeys. I he only castes from whom 

they will not take any food are the Chamar, Bhangi, Dhobi 
and Kalar. 

They do not use any medicine, but when ill pray to Devi 
Zahir Pir. They have much fear of the Evil Eye, their remedy 
for which is to get a fakir or a jogi to blow on a vessel of 
water, which is then waved over the head of the patient. As 
a rule they are truthful among themselves, but lie to others to 
procure the release of a clansman. Their oaths are as 
follows: The most binding is to light a lamp (c-hirag) and 
then blow it out. By this he means, " If I lie may my family 
be destroyed as I blow out the light. " If a Habura can be 
induced to take this oath, he will never lie. Another form of 
oath is to cut the root of a pipal tree. The third is swearing 
by Devi. 

The vagrant branch of the tribes supplies some of the 
most audacious criminals in the 

Criminal habits. * T . i n A 

United Provinces. A recent report 

says : " They are the pest of the neighbourhoods which they 
frequent, are continuously pilfering, stealing standing crops, 
attacking carts and passengers along the road, committing 
robberies and even dacoities." The boys are trained at first 
in field robbery and are then taken out on excursions for the 
purpose of burglary. When they go to rob fields the gang con- 
sists of not less than twenty men. When out for the purpose 
of burglary, eight or nine go together. They seldom use 
violence except to save themselves from arrest and they never 
carry any weapon, except bludgeons. If a crime has been 
committed and traced to any horde, -the chief immediately 
determines who are to be given up. Usually a compromise is 
made with the police ; two out of six or three out of eight are 
made over to justice, the rest escaping. All the chief does 

332 AIM'I-.NDIX IX. 

is to repeat a form of words, and then taking two of the 
grains of wheat offered to the god, he plarr.s tlu-in on the 
head of the scapegoat. The oath of the brotherhood is upon 
him, and whether he be guilty or not, he confesses to tin- 
Magistrate or Judge and goes to the gallows or to a lifelong 
exile confident that his chief and brethren will, as they are 
bound, feed and protect his wife and children. 

In Aligarh at the present day if a Habura is killed in the 
commission of a crime, his accomplices give his widow one 
hundred and fifty rupees ; if he is only arrested, they have to 
support his wife and family until he is released. Neither men 
nor women wear any jewellery. They do not go long distances 
to commit crime, and in the daylight they can easily be 
identified as Haburas, because both men and women wear the 
modicum of clothes consistent with decency. They do not 
attempt to conceal their movements from the police ; and if 
one of the gang be arrested, the headman will at once give 
notice of the fact. The only stolen property they bring into 
the camp is grain ; jewellery, vessels, and clothes they conceal 
in earthen vessels and bury them in the neighbourhood of the 
encampment. They are generally supported by some land- 
owner, who assists them in the disposal of stolen property and 
gets a commission of four annas in the rupee. 

Argot. Their argot 

corn of all kinds 

















pahuna (guest) 

vessels of all kinds . . . 










go from here . . 

paro hind. 

run away 




police officer 

mota modliunn. 

Jadua Brahmins. 

The following are particulars regarding the modus operandi 
of a fraternity known as Jadua Brahmins, taken from the 
Supplement to the Police Gazette, Lower Provinces, dated 1 5th 
July 1904 and 3ist March 1905. 

In order to collect information for their depredations ihey 
open a small rice and dal shop in some village. One of them 
visits the village in the garb of a mahant. After he has been 
there a few hours, another one turns up disguised as a 
zamindar and represents to the villagers that he comes from 
some distant place. Seeing the mahant he expresses great 
joy and begins to worship him with such profound respect as 
to excite the curiosity of the villagers. The spurious zamin- 
dar tells them that the mahant possesses supernatural powers 
and gave him saris, money and cattle. He presses the 
mahant to go with him to his home and the credulity of the 
villagers is worked up and used for swindling. 

Their recognized modus operandi is usually as follows : 
They start out in parties of three or four, and having 
ascertained by preliminary enquiry the whereabouts of any 
likely dupe, one of the party enters the village in the guise of 
a religious mendicant and taking up his quarters in the village 
pretends to devote himself to religious meditation. A second 
man generally accompanies him as a chela. The others of the 
party enter the village shortly after and go about inquiring if 
a very holy Brahmin has been seen. They go to the house 
of the intended dupe, who naturally asks why they are seeking 
the Brahmin, and they reply that they have come to do 
homage to him as he has turned their brass and silver orna- 
ments to gold. The dupe at once goes with them in search 
of the Brahmin and is greatly impressed at the scene he wit- 
nesses between the ' Babaji ' and his accomplices, and at once 
falls into the trap, saying he, too, has a quantity of silver that 
he would like to have turned into gold. The Brahmin pretends 
reluctance, but eventually yields to the dupe's entreaties and 
allows himself to be led to the house, where, with his chela he 
takes up his quarters in an inner room, dark and with a mud 
floor. A variety of tricks are now resorted to, to impress the 


dupe with a sense of the magic powers of the swindlers. 
Sometimes he is directed to place a rupee on his forehead and 
go to the door and look at the sun for five minutes, being 
assured that when he returns the Brahmin will have disap- 
peared by magic. Having looked at the sun for five minutes, 
naturally the dupe can see nothing on returning to a dark 
room, and expresses wonder at the Brahmin's disappearance 
and gradual reappearance as his (the dupe's) eyes get used 
to the darkness. Sometimes he is taken out at night to a 
bagicha outside the village, the Brahmin promising to show 
him the goddess Bhagwati or any other selected deity, who is 
duly represented by one of the confederates and promises all 
good fortune to the dupe. 

The silver ornaments, all that can be collected, are made 
over to the Brahmin, who pretends to tie them in a cloth and 
bury them in the floor of the room. He then calls for^///, 
oil and incense, and lights a fire over the place where they are 
said to be buried and bids the dupe watch over it closely for 
several hours or some days until he, the Brahmin, returns. 
The Brahmin and his chela with the silver concealed about 
them then leave the village, join their confederates, and make 
their escape. The dupe patiently watches the fire, until tired 
of waiting for the Brahmin's return, he digs up the earth and 
finds nothing in the cloth but stones and rubbish. 

This is an outline of the trick as usually practised, but 
there may be many varieties of it. When the dupe possesses 
gold ornaments, these are obtained in the same way by a 
promise that they will be doubled. 

The Jadua Brahmins of Alamgunge are all nominally under 
police surveillance. 


Counterfeit Coins. 

Mr. F. H. Vincent, of the Indian Police, Bombay Presi- 
dency, gives the following hints on the detection of counterfeit 

Counterfeits are of two kinds, cast and die-struck. The 
majority of cast coin are made of base 

Cast coins. ' , ..< . , . 

metal like tin, pewter or even lead or 

an admixture of one or more of these with a very small 
quantity of copper. 

The spuriousness of such inferior cast coins is immediately 

established by their colour. The 

"test? 61 colour of genuine rupees, either fresh 

from the mint or after they have been 

in circulation, is very distinctive and hence a glance at them 
enables us to pick out inferior cast coins. Secondly, such 
coins are softer than genuine ones. Thirdly, their ring is dull. 
These three tests are, as a rule, sufficient to enable us to detect 
such inferior cast coins. There are also other signs which often 
enable us to positively assert that a counterfeit is a cast one, 
for these it is advisable to provide oneself with a magnifying 
glass and examine the suspected coin closely by means of it, 
comparing it with a genuine coin, for preference of the same 
year's coinage. The surface will, as a rule, be found to be more 
or less ' pitted,' that is to say, covered with very small holes, 
the lettering will not stand out so sharply and clearly as on a 
genuine coin ; the finer detail apparent on the design of a 
genuine coin will be wanting and small excresences and flaws 
are almost always present. 

In further confirmation it is only necessary to turn to the 
milling. This instead of being regu- 

Millmg. , , r < i i 

larly spaced, even, of uniform depth, 

and of a definite number of serrations for particular years of 
coinage, will be found to differ in one or all of these details. 
In bad specimens the milling right round the coin is defective, 
in better ones only that portion where the strip of metal 
representing the channel of the mould has been cut off, and in 
the best class of counterfeits in which the milling has probably 
been impressed by some implement, such as a milling tool, one 
must rely on touch and on counting the number of serrations 
in order to obtain a clue to their spuriousness. 

33 6 AiM'Kxnix xi. 

Having examined a coin as to colour, hardness, ring and 
surface finish, we may now turn to the 

Weighment. . . ~ J .-.- 

more scientific tests. Of these the 

simplest and the only one capable of easy applicationis that 
of weighment. Fine balances weighing to a fraction of a grain 
are not always at hand and perhaps the simplest method of 
checking the weight is to weigh the suspected coin against a 
number of other coins, preferably of the same year's coinage, 
using a goldsmith's balance. If in all or even the majority of 
cases it does not tally with the genuine rupees used, it may 
safely be looked upon as a counterfeit. 

Further tests such as specific gravity or assay, we need not 
trouble ourselves with, they are best left in the hands of 
experts, to whom in all cases of doubt coins should be sub- 
mitted for final inspection. 

Totally distinct from the cast coins, both in their method 
of manufacture and in their appearance, 

Die-struck coins. ,. , , . r *,.., 

are die-struck counterfeits, whereas 

a cast coin is prepared by the metal being melted and poured 
into the mould, usually of sand or clay, a die-struck coin is 
made by the impression being struck on to discs of metal by 
means of metal dies. 

In the former process the mould is usually injured after 
one or two castings, hence it is broken up again and remade 
preparatory to further castings. In the latter process coins can 
be struck so long as the dies last, a variable period depending 
on the material they are made of and the method and manner 
in which the blow is struck. Die-struck counterfeits can be 
divided into two classes : those made by means of dies engraved 
by hand and those by means of dies on to which the impression 
has been transferred. 

Engraving is an art known to very few and it is a safe 
assertion to make that no die has been 
engraved by a counterfeiter that would 

pass any but the most casual scrutiny. Innumerable speci- 
mens of counterfeits prepared from engraved dies have come 
to hand and each and all show certain pronounced defects of 
which the following are the most common : 

Harshness or hardness of outline and detail. Want of 
relief. Incorrect lettering or inversion 

Their faults. f , , , , 

of some letters, more trequently an 
' N '. Much of the fine detail of the reverse is also lost and 


such a counterfeit requires only one glance to enable one to 
classify it at once as struck from engraved dies. 

On the other hand, counterfeits which have been struck 
from dies prepared by the other method, 

Superior dies. , ., . f e \_ j 

exhibit none or these signs and are in 

every way superior to coins made from such rough engraved 
dies. They show most, if not all, the finer detail. They are 
bound to be exact copies, as the impression on the dies was 
obtained from a genuine coin and they therefore do not show 
any marked irregularities or mistakes in the features or 

Their fault however lies in want of relief. The lettering 

also does not stand out as square as 

Their faults. , . D / , 

that or a genuine coin, both these 

faults are in a great measure due to insufficient force being 
used when the coin is struck. Nearly all such coins exhibit 
some one flaw which will repeat itself in all struck from the 
same set of dies and if a number of coins are found all pos- 
sessing any such flaw we have positive proof of the same set of 
dies having been used. This of course applies equally to coins 
struck from hand-engraved dies, as to those prepared from the 
other class. Common flaws in the latter class are small dots 
or marks from cracks in the dies. 

A sign by which a counterfeit can occasionally be dis- 
tinguished from a genuine coin is in the non-correspondence 
of the axes of the obverse and reverse. If a genuine coin is 
taken between the thumb and the first finger so that an 
imaginary line passes through the centre of the design of the 
reverse, and the coin rotated, the head of the obverse will be 
found correctly and squarely placed. In counterfeits such is 
often not the case, the fault being due to incorrect adjustment 
of the dies. 

Another sign which immediately exposes a counterfeit is 
sometimes forthcoming when corresponding dies of the same 
year have not been used and though such carelessness or 
indifference may seem extraordinary, yet frequent instances 
have come to notice. This error becomes particularly glaring 
when an obverse prior to the year 1877 which contains the 
inscription " Victoria Queen " is used with a reverse giving a 
year of coinage subsequent to this date or vice versa. It is 
therefore well to remember that coins up to and including 
1876 should have the inscription " Victoria Queen," subsequent 

B 51422 


to that date " Victoria Empress." From 1903 onwards coins 
bear the inscription " Edward VII, King and Emperor." 

As regards examination of die-struck counterfeits we of 
course have again recourse to the tests given under cast 
coins. Unless made of the proper alloy, their colour will 
again give us a good indication and due attention must 
also be paid to the ring, milling and weight. 

It must at the same time be remembered that none of these 
tests are infallible and that a coin may exhibit any of the 
faults above enumerated and yet be a genuine mint struck 

In such a case the coin is either mint defective or 
has been maltreated. If a coin is by 

Genuine but mint defective r j u* u J 

coins rare chance found which does not 

ring at all, it may almost with 

certainty be looked upon as genuine, though mint defective. 
Firstly, no coiner would make or pass a coin which did not 
ring at all, and secondly, ocular proof in furtherance of the 
above statement can usually be found on careful examination 
of such ' dead ' coin, for the edge at some part or other 
will show a hair-like fissure, or in pronounced cases will even 
have slightly opened out. Both are sure indications that the 
coin in its first stage of manufacture was subjected to heavy 
rolling and hence passed through the mint. Exposure to 
certain fumes, to fire, burial in the ground, conversion to an 
ornament and constant circulation, are also factors to be 
taken into consideration as they all affect a coin and may 
alter its colour, ring, milling and weight, but such influences 
will generally make themselves apparent by other indications 
as well. 

Counterfeit Coins 

The following hints on detecting counterfeit rupees, taken 
from the Madras Police Gazette dated lyth November 1906, 
will be found interesting and instructive. 

(1) A suspected coin should, if possible, be compared 
with two genuine coins of the same description and examined 
in a good light. 

(2) When rung on a stone slab or similar hard surface, a 
genuine coin should give a clear high note. Counterfeits do 
not, as a rule, ring well. 

(3) The colour of the coin should be scrutinised, a brassy 
or dull leaden appearance would generally point to the coin 
being counterfeit. Some counterfeits have a peculiar glazed 
appearance. A genuine coin should be silvery and dull or 
bright according to the treatment it ha's received. 

(4) In a genuine coin the thickness at the rim is made the 
same all round. In counterfeit coins the rim is sometimes 
thicker at one point than another (especially in the case of 
struck counterfeits), and the coin itself may be slightly bent or 

(5) The rim of a genuine coin is regularly milled all the 
way round with straight lines at right angles to the faces. All 
rupees minted since 1904 have 150 serrations or teeth in the 
milling. In counterfeits the lines of the milling are often at a 
slant, the distances between the lines are irregular and the 
lines (or ridges) themselves uneven and broken. This is a 
most important test. The milling can best be examined by 
placing the suspected coin between two good ones (of the 
same description), so that the rims of all the three are close 
together and can be seen at the same time. Defects can be 
readily detected. 

(6) The beading on the inner side of the rim of the coin 
should be even and regular all round, the pearls being uniform 
in size and shape, and equi-distant from each other. On coun- 
terfeits the pearls are often badly shaped, uneven in size and 
spaced at irregular intervals. A peculiarity of some counter- 
feits is that the pearls are very small and far apart, but this is 
also the case in some genuine coins of 1840. 


(7) The devices on the obverse and reverse should be 
clear and well-defined. Blurred lines or edges and an imper- 
fect impression (unless plainly due to wear and tear) are 

(8) Letters and figures of the inscription should be clear, 
well-defined and sharp-edged. Blurred, irregular or double 
lines are to be regarded with suspicion. In some counterfeits 
the letters are much thinner than on genuine coins. 

(9) The plain surface of the coin (i. e. y the portion not 
occupied by device or inscription) should be smooth, even 
and free from blemish. An uneven, spotted or rough surface 
is suspicious. 

(10) The edges of the rim should be smooth to the touch. 
Rough, jagged edges are suspicious. 

(11) All cast coins are counterfeits. In a cast coin the 
surfaces may be granulated or pitted with minute pin-holes 
which appear as black spots to the naked eye, but can be felt 
with the point of a needle or pin. The milling is often defect- 
ive, especially at the point where the metal was poured into 
the mould. The letters and figures in cast coins nearly always 
present a rounded appearance instead of having square, sharp 

(12) A counterfeit coin will generally be found to exhibit 
at least two of the faults indicated above. A coin should not 
be condemned for only one fault unless it is very marked. 



/V.s< r//>//7V matter of Plate I. 

Ex. 31. 

Dhiiria carried by Gujerat criminals. 

Ex. 29. 

Bhil's bow and arrows. 

Ex. 44. 

Pungi or blow-gourd forming part of Kaikadi's ( Pamlor's and 
Kail Korva's) disguise. 

Ex. 55. 

Mina gydn or house-breaking instrument. 

Ex. 54. 

/ \insi carried by Kolis and Vrigliris of Gujerat. 

Ex. 26. 

Kariyali dhdng carried by Kolis and Y;ighris of Gujerat. 

Ex. II. 

(iujrrat Koli's kdtor or boomerang. 



Ex. 23. 

Part of Chhapparband's paraphernalia. Palli or iron spoon, tongs, moulds 

for counterfeiting rupees and 8-anna pieces, some of the coin 

turned out and clay shaped like a dnrgah. 

Chhapparband's characteristic mould, taken from a drawing. 


Ex. 37. 

Manvar Baori's mould, counterfeit rupee in the rough and palli or ladle. 

Manvar Baori's characteristic mould, taken from a drawing. 


Ex. 53. 

Kangatti: Kaikadi's Waddar's and Berad's jemmy in the Carnatic. 

Ex. 56. 

Bauriah's makeshift scales. 

Ex. 40. 

Jemmy common among nomadic tribes living in pals. 

Ex. 46. 

Khdtariya : Gujerat Koli's and Ya'ghri's jemmy. 

Ex. 41. 

Arasukuchi: Berad's jemmy. 


Ex. 52. 

Slings, khantad (jemmy) and knives carried by Kanjars. 


Ex. 20. 

Bauriah burglar's knife, waxed taper, ball of wax and gvtut (jemmy). 

Ex. 38. 

Oudhia's bamboo fork for lifting window and door fastenings, 

gydus and tongs. 


Ex. 42. 

Korne (chunam scraper) carried by Bhamptas 
for picking locks (actual size). 

Ex. 10. 

Bhampta's ulmukhs or curved knives (actual size) 

Ex. 50. 

Piece of metal made to look like a bar of gold, 
used by Yaghri cheats (actual size). 

.-. . .. 

A 001 047 454 2